For two rounds, Nick Diaz took everything Robbie Lawler had to offer while returning fire with his trademark volume boxing in their middleweight bout at UFC 266.
It was an especially impressive effort from the Stockton, Calif., native considering that he had been out of action since 2015. By the third round, however, Diaz’s gas tank had waned and he elected not to continue after getting hit by a right hook and left uppercut 44 seconds into the third frame. It was a bizarre ending to an entertaining rematch, but Lawler believes his shots gradually took their toll on the former Strikeforce champion.
“I felt like it was an accumulation,” Lawler said at the UFC 266 post-fight press 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, I hit him with a little uppercut. Then when he went down he wanted me 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,” Lawler added. “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.”
After the bout’s conclusion, Lawler and Diaz shared some words in the Octagon. According to Lawler, it was nothing but respect between the two rivals more than 17 years after their first encounter in the Octagon.
“I just said thank you for bringing the best out of me,” Lawler said of the exchange. “I have a lot of respect for you and hopefully your life is going to get together and good things are going to happen to you.
“He’s a hell of a guy. He’s a nice guy. He’s a freaking warrior. In this sport and sports in general, you want the best for your opponents and the athletes that you see around you. I like him.”
Lawler was able to avenge a knockout loss suffered against Diaz at UFC 47, halting a four-bout skid in the process. The former welterweight champion was pleased to silence some doubters on Saturday night.
“I don’t think everyone expected to see me the way I was today,” Lawler said. “I think they thought they were going to see the guy who’s been fighting for the last one and a half, two years. That wasn’t who showed up today and I spoiled some plans.”