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UFC 266 Preview: Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler II

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Nick Diaz v Robbie Lawler takes place this Saturday night, 25th September, in a five round middleweight match at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The contest is a rematch of one of the most iconic fights in MMA history which took place over 17 years ago at UFC 47, back in April of 2004.

The contest will see the long awaited return of Stockton born fan favourite, Nick Diaz- a jiu jitsu fighter who was trained under the Gracie family banner.

The elder Diaz is usually part of a double act with his younger brother Nate, who is bound to accompany him to the octagon on Saturday night. A notorious firebrand, 38-year old Diaz is often said to fight with a chip on his shoulder the size of the state of California. Like his younger brother- who is also indecisively uncomfortable with words- the usually media shy Diaz is famous for being able to endure an exorbitant amount of punishment in the octagon. So much that the "Diaz" brand itself has become, to the fans delight, shorthand for “mega money fight”. Pay-per-view numbers are virtually guaranteed to skyrocket when the Diaz name is chalked into the lineup of any given UFC card.

Nick Diaz last fought more than six and a half years ago at UFC 183 against the legendary Anderson Silva. Originally a decision win for Silva, the result was overturned due to both fighters testing positive for substances that featured on UFC’s prohibitive list. Silva tested positive for steroids while Diaz found himself facing an 18-month ban for marijuana use.

In a move that will satisfy Diaz, newly revamped rules made at the start of the year by USADA- the sanctioning body that administers anti-doping measures- vows that athletes won't be sanctioned if cannabinoids show up in both pre or post-fight drug testing. Diaz is known as a strong advocate for the widely used recreational drug.

Diaz was victorious in the first fight even through Lawler was widely expected to outstrike his opponent at the time. Diaz eventually managed to KO Lawler relatively early during the second round to secure himself the victory.

In pre-fight interviews, Diaz argues that Lawler has not evolved nor adapted his style that much since their first encounter. But that’s hardly objectively true given that Lawler, 39, went through a career resurgence which culminated in him winning the UFC Welterweight belt back in late 2014, during the time when Diaz himself was about to serve his most recent ban in the sport. Lawler is the tentative bookies favourite given that he has been largely active in the octagon during recent years. Lawler’s last fight was a losing effort against Neil Magny back in August of 2020 and he is currently fighting on the back of four consecutive losses.

One peculiarity about Diaz, is that he doesn’t like to exchange the usual line of pleasantries with his opponents. MMA fighters are often seen shaking hands and sometimes hugging each other, sometimes before, and more often during the conclusion of fights, but Diaz prefers to deviate from this usual line of gamesmanship. And it’s not an unreasonable trajectory of thought given that MMA is a combat sport where fighters often pay with the loss of their consciousness for any missteps taken in their chosen profession. Lawler is also not a fighter who likes to engage in preflight niceties or verbiage, and prefers to settle the score usually in brutal fashion as a head hunter within the confines of the octagon.

Both fighters have a long history in the sport. Essentially speaking they are marquee name attractions and they feature as the must-see, de-facto, true fans’ main event on a card that is headlined by featherweights Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega.
UFC 266 takes place this Saturday night, 25th September, from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Paul Fitzgerald

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