After a back-and-forth slugfest for two rounds, Lawler (29-15 MMA, 14-9 UFC) came out in the third of Saturday’s featured bout at the T-Mobile Arena and landed some solid strikes on Diaz (26-10 MMA, 7-7 UFC), who was making his anticipated return from a more than six-year hiatus.
Lawler landed a strong blow that hurt Diaz early in the third round and made him fall to his back. He refused to follow Diaz to the ground, and when referee Jason Herzog tried to instruct Diaz to his feet, he refused and the fight was waved off.
Some critics said post-fight that Diaz quit. Lawler doesn’t see it that way, however, and argued the stoppage was merely the sum of a grueling fight.
“I felt like it was an accumulation,” Diaz told MMA Junkie and other reporters at the UFC 266 post-fight news conference. “But I felt like I caught him with a little check hook and then a little left after that then when he went down a hit him with a little uppercut. Then when he went down he wanted him to come down with him and I was like, ‘Let’s continue the fun stuff.’
“He’s a warrior. He was standing right there in the pocket. I throw hard shots and he was taking them. It was a lot of damage. When you go back and watch the fight it was a war. A three-round war. I hit pretty hard and it just wasn’t his night.”
Lawler’s victory over Diaz marked a moment of redemption losing the first fight between them in April 2004. It was the first time Lawler was ever stopped with strikes, and more than 17 years later he got it back.
The former UFC welterweight champion said it doesn’t signify anything special for him, though. He was surprised when the matchup was presented to him, and ultimately it was a motivating fight to take on one of the biggest names in MMA history.
Lawler credited his Sanford MMA teammate and Bellator fighter Jason Jackson for getting him perfectly prepared for Diaz’s unique style. Now that he secured the victory and snapped his four-fight losing skid, “Ruthless” is ready to move on to his next victim.
Twitter reacts to Robbie Lawler’s TKO of Nick Diaz to spoil return at UFC 266
Robbie Lawler def. Nick Diaz at UFC 266: Best photos
view 22 images