Last night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, UFC 266 brought a combat sports experience like no other.
Headlined by a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega, the main event plus co-mains delivered.
NICK. DIAZ. IS. BACK.
— UFC (@ufc) September 26, 2021
Starting with the return of Nick Diaz after a six-year hiatus from competition, now at middleweight, the fight did not disappoint. Diaz attempted to run back his past success against Robbie Lawler but came up short.
Win Even In Defeat
However, the loss was only for the record books as Diaz’s return enhanced his folklore in the eyes of the fans, based on the performance. Lawler stalked Diaz and fought him toe-to-toe from the outset, and Diaz never shied away from it.
This takes nothing away from the legacy of Nick Diaz.
In his prime, he was one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
Those who got to witness his era as it happened are lucky. pic.twitter.com/pa3hMtbltb
— MMA History Today (@MMAHistoryToday) September 26, 2021
The middleweight feature saw former UFC welterweight champ Robbie Lawler (29-15) defeat Diaz (26-10) via TKO at 0:44 of Round 3. The non-title match was scheduled for five rounds.
In mixed martial arts and primarily the UFC, a non-title match going for five rounds specifies the importance of the bout. Usually, five-rounders are reserved for championship fights.
From the outset, Diaz tried a spinning back kick while leaping. Although he missed, it set off an evening of action that kept the crowd on edge. As Lawler pounded away with striking combinations, Diaz mixed it up with a barrage of slow standup and switch kicks.
— Cageside (@cageside_) September 26, 2021
After a mix of the same in round two, Diaz took a check right hook and landed on the Octagon canvas. After Lawler walked away to give Diaz a chance to get up, the referee waved off the bout at a defeated Diaz.
However, the two embraced and showed respect for each other. In addition, the crowd reciprocated, cheering at the back and forth all-action war. Apparently, even in loss all signals point to the return of Stockton, California’s bad boy.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 26, 2021
“I’m glad I at least put on a show,” Diaz said during the postfight interview. “I knew I had it coming, Old Rob. I had a lot of stress coming into this one, especially being off for a long time. I don’t have no excuses. I had a long time off, and I knew I had it coming.”
Evolution Through Confusion
Diaz, 38, revealed some confusion about how the fight against Lawler came to be. However, he seemed pleased with the crowd reception and saw the loss as a gain.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 25, 2021
“I don’t know how this fight got set up,” Diaz said. “I had a switch-up in my whole management setup and the way the fight got set up. It was just a bum rap. But no excuses.
“He was in great shape. I knew I was leaking here, so I didn’t want to make too much of a mess. I’m glad to be back. I’m glad I put on a good show for you.”
In addition to a barnburner main event that saw Alexander Volkanovski retain the featherweight strap from a very game Brian Ortega, Nick Diaz’s return opened a new page in his career.
However, the fight business is all about intrigue, guts, and glory. Diaz has all of each and proved it at UFC 266. The veteran has never lost his appeal and only cemented a further interest in the star.