It was over 17 years ago when two fresh-faced welterweight stepped into the octagon to compete at UFC 47. Those two men, both in their early 20s, were Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler. On Saturday, the 38-year-old Diaz faces the 39-year-old Lawler in a middleweight rematch. The two compete on the pay-per-view portion of the UFC 266 fight card.
That first fight defined neither man, but it was a good representation of what fans would come to appreciate about these two.
Heading into the scrap, the UFC sold the grappling skills of Diaz, but also mentioned his growth as a striker. While the commentary praised Lawler for his powerful striking.
When the fight began, UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who will not be on the call for UFC 266, seemed confused by Diaz’s approach. Rogan couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that Diaz was not only engaging Lawler in a striking bout, but trash talking while he stood tor-to-toe with the powerful Lawler. By the time the second round started, Rogan openly wondered if it was Lawler who was in deep water and not Diaz.
It would not be a surprise to find out that many fans came to the same conclusion as Rogan. A star might not have been born that night, but when Diaz knocked out Lawler in the second stanza, the Nick Diaz mythos began to take shape.
The two men have had their ups and downs since that 2004 bout and the end of their careers is in sight, but that they face off in a rematch in 2021 somehow makes sense perfect sense in the world of MMA.
UFC 266: Diaz vs. Lawler 2
|Sig. Strikes Landed Per Min.||5.43||3.50|
|Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.56||4.16|
|Takedown Avg./15 min||1.32||0.68|
|Submission Average Per 15 min||1||0|