UFC 266 delivered the action and the drama last night. We saw Alexander Volkanovski survive, and thrive, to retain his featherweight title. And Velantina Shevchenko continued to prove that she is one of the best ever with a convincing defense of her flyweight title.
However, before those belts were tussled over the People’s Main Event saw fan-favourites, and Octagon legends, Robbie Lawler and Nick Diaz duke it out. This was a rematch of a bout Diaz won back in 2004. It was also the first fight Stockton’s Finest has been involved in for six years.
As was predicted, Diaz didn’t have what he needed to put away a former champ who has been far more active over the past half-decade. After a fun pair of rounds ‘Ruthless’ was able to stop Diaz with punches in the third.
With Diaz down, Lawler went up to him and pressed his noggin up to his. While there he spoke to Diaz, but microphones didn’t pick up what was said. Thankfully, in the post-fight press conference Lawler opted to reveal what he told Diaz.
“Thank you for bringing the best out of me,” said Lawler (per ESPN’s Marc Raimondi). “I have a lot of respect for you. Hopefully your life is going to get together and good things are going to happen to you.”
For Lawler that win snapped a four fight losing streak that stretches back to 2017. Over that span he lost to Rafael dos Anjos, Ben Askren (albeit controversially), Colby Covington and Neil Magny.
Lawler has been with the UFC since 2013. He was also with the promotion between 2002 and 2004.
His most successful spell in the Octagon came right at the beginning of his second stint with the company. After wins over Josh Koscheck, Bobby Voelker and Rory MacDonald he lost to Johny Hendricks for the vacant UFC welterweight title.
Lawler then regrouped and beat Jake Ellenberger and Matt Brown before beating Hendricks in a rematch for the title. He then defended the belt against MacDonald in a fight for the ages.
In 2016 he followed that up with a win over Carlos Condit, but then lost his title to Tyron Woodley six months later.