In a clash of titans, Robbie Lawler gets what he ‘expected,’ outlasts Nick Diaz in UFC 266 showstopper

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LAS VEGAS — Robbie Lawler came more than to a sitting down Nick Diaz and grabbed his fingers. The two place their foreheads together as a indicator of regard.

Lawler and Diaz, two getting old fighters revered for their vintage MMA fights, went to fight all over again on Saturday night time at UFC 266 at T-Cellular Arena. The two pushed a relentless speed — especially contemplating they are each nearer to 40 several years outdated than 30 — but in the close, Lawler was the victor by way of TKO at 44 seconds of the third round.

“Thank you for bringing the ideal out of me,” Lawler mentioned he told Diaz afterward. “I have a large amount of respect for you. With any luck , your lifetime is gonna get together and excellent factors are likely to occur to you.”

Lawler, the previous UFC welterweight champion, landed a mixture, culminating with a challenging suitable hand to Diaz’s nose that dropped him. Referee Jason Herzog asked Diaz if he wished to carry on, and Diaz shook his head. Herzog waved the bout off.

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“That’s what I envisioned,” Lawler claimed in his postfight job interview. “I anticipated him to thrust the tempo and test to crack me. And I didn’t let him.”

Diaz, a cult favored between followers, experienced not fought considering the fact that UFC 183 on Jan. 31, 2015, a unanimous conclusion decline to Anderson Silva that was afterwards overturned to a no contest when Silva examined good for a steroid and Diaz tested constructive for cannabis.

In an job interview before this 7 days with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Diaz expressed resentment toward the activity of MMA and stated he wasn’t actually sure why he was preventing. That led to some considerations in the MMA community about no matter whether Diaz need to be combating. But when he was in the Octagon on Saturday, he showed he was recreation to struggle, landing extensive mixtures and his standard volume, although the strikes came slower than common.

“I’ve constantly experienced respect for Diaz,” Lawler reported. “He brings it just about every freakin’ time he gets into the ring. … He came to battle and place on a hell of a present.”

Afterward, Diaz was holding a towel up to his nose, which was bleeding. He experienced not been completed in a struggle because 2007 and was completed only as soon as prior to in some thing other than a doctor’s stoppage (2002). When the bout was stopped Saturday, two judges had the rating tied at 19-19 and the other experienced Lawler forward 20-18.

“I understood I was leaking in below,” Diaz claimed. “I didn’t want to depart also much of a mess.”

This was a rematch of a 2004 battle in which Diaz knocked out Lawler in the 2nd spherical at UFC 47. Saturday’s bout took spot at middleweight, a swap that took area during combat week at the request of Diaz, and was contracted for five rounds, which is uncommon for nontitle, non-main celebration bouts.

“At minimum I put on a clearly show,” Diaz reported. “I realized I experienced it coming. There was a lot of strain coming into this a single.”

The initial two rounds had been very aggressive. Diaz landed a bunch of combinations in the to start with spherical. Lawler countered with the more challenging shots in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. Diaz essentially landed far more substantial strikes, 150-131, according to UFC Stats. Diaz is only the 12th fighter in UFC heritage to land 150 significant strikes in a reduction — and all the other fights went extended than this one particular did from Lawler, according to ESPN Stats & Details study.

The 150 sizeable strikes are tied for the fifth-most in a middleweight fight, and the 281 merged significant strikes are tied for the third-most in UFC middleweight record.

Lawler (29-15, 1 NC) experienced lost four straight coming in and experienced not gained given that a unanimous selection in excess of Donald Cerrone at UFC 214 in July 2017. The Florida resident held the UFC welterweight title from 2014 to 2016 with two profitable title defenses. Lawler, 39, is also a previous Elite Xtreme Battle middleweight winner and has been a pro fighter due to the fact 2001.

“He is a warrior,” Lawler stated of Diaz. “That was a tough battle. He was standing suitable there in the pocket. I throw difficult photographs, and he was taking them. It was a good deal of damage. When you go again and watch the combat, it was a three-round war. I hit quite challenging, and it just wasn’t his night time.”

Diaz (26-10, 2 NC) was on the lookout for his very first victory because 2011 when he defeat BJ Penn at UFC 137. The Stockton, California, native is the former Strikeforce welterweight champion, and he compiled a few title defenses ahead of currently being introduced into the UFC for his second operate with the marketing. Diaz, 38, is the older brother of fellow UFC star Nate Diaz, also one particular of the most popular fighters on the roster.

“I spoiled some plans,” Lawler mentioned.