Saturday will mark the return of UFC fan-favorite Nick Diaz after six years on the shelf. The elder Diaz brother will take on former welterweight champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 266 in a rematch, 17 years since they first traded leathered fists.
Fans who vividly remember their initial encounter at UFC 47 notably recall Diaz’s incessant trash talk at Lawler mid-fight. Many believe it eventually got to Lawler’s head, which ultimately resulted in his knockout loss in the second round.
But this time, the 38-year-old Diaz is taking the exact opposite approach. As he said during the pre-fight countdown show, he’s letting go of his “gangster” image to become more of a role model to his younger students.
It’s hard to go back and keep it gangster or whatever. It’s not a good look. I don’t really want to push that ‘cause I want to teach… I like to teach the kids and they’re all grown up now. And putting in work with those kids, it’s really good for me ‘cause they go hard. I’m actually a way more dangerous fighter than I was when I fought Robbie Lawler the first time.
I’m not going out there to call him names. I’m gonna be a lot more sportsmanlike out there. That’s not what won me the fight last time. That surprised him a little bit, but I would’ve won the fight, anyways.
I’m gonna be really unstoppable, having made the right decision. So I’m gonna beat Robbie again.
UFC 266 takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Headlining the event is the featherweight title bout between champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. Preceding it is another championship fight between flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko and Lauren Murphy. Diaz vs. Lawler II is scheduled for five rounds.