This past Saturday at UFC 266, we saw the return of Nick Diaz (26-10, 2 NC). Diaz hadn’t competed in almost seven years but finally returned to the octagon after years away to take on Robbie Lawler (29-15, 1 NC).
This fight was a rematch that was seventeen years in the making. When they first fought, Lawler was a massive favorite, but Diaz shocked everyone when he knocked him out. Originally, despite the lengthy layoff, Diaz was the favorite leading up to UFC 266.
However, the betting lines started to change the week of the fight. Diaz requested that the fight change from 170 to 185 pounds. When he appeared at fight week, he didn’t appear to be in the kind of shape we were accustomed to seeing Diaz in.
He looked very soft and just didn’t look right. The fight at UFC 266 didn’t start out well for him as Lawler poured it on immediately. However, Diaz held his own and even found his own groove where he was landing a lot of shots on Lawler.
You could tell that the boxing technique was still there. However, the cardio was not and the speed was not. He just didn’t look like a guy who was fully prepared and he got stopped in the third round.
What’s next after UFC 266?
Diaz and his camp have alluded to a number of issues leading up to the fight. He parted ways with folks in his membership team and hinted that he was essentially forced into this fight with Lawler.
Teammate and close friend Jake Shields said that Diaz only had six weeks to prepare. When you’ve been off for more than six years, six weeks is not enough time and it showed at UFC 266. Diaz even said in the post-fight interview that he knew he had a loss coming.
So the question becomes, will we see Nick Diaz in the UFC again? Well, that remains to be seen. On one hand, he said that he was happy to be back, but on the other hand, he just didn’t look the same.
If he does decide to fight, I think he needs to wait a bit and really make that he has a full three-month camp to prepare. If the UFC gives him another fight, I could see someone like Donald Cerrone (36-16, 2 NC) being a good candidate.
Cerrone has history with Nick’s younger brother Nate and he’s also in a very similar career position. If you want a little more high profile, perhaps a Jorge Masvidal (35-15) fight could come to fruition depending on the result of Masvidal’s next fight.