FSM Presents: Kalani’s Corner – UFC 266 – Nick Diaz vs Robbie Lawler II

Franchise Sports Media


It has been a long time coming but he is finally making his long-awaited return to the octagon. The original Stockton Bad Boy Nick Diaz ( 26-9 13 KOs 8 SUBs) will step back into the world of MMA on September 25th at UFC 266 as he faces a familiar foe in former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler ( 28-15 20 KOs).


Kalani's Corner
Photo Credit: MMA Junkie

These two legends of the fight game first crossed paths back in 2004 at UFC 47, where Diaz won via KO. At the time, both were promising fighters making their way up the ranks and already building up their names with their performances. Before the fight during introductions, Diaz would yell across the cage to Lawler, “Stockton mother f***er, STOCKTON!”. The yelling and taunting would continue during the bout and even forced then referee Steve Mazzagatti to say, “no talking.” But the Stockton Bad Boy would keep on, which later in an interview Lawler admitted it threw him off as he wasn’t expecting that level of trash-talking during a fight.

At the time, Lawler was known as the heavy-handed brawler, while Diaz was looked at as more of a grappling ace. To the surprise of many, Diaz chose to stand and trade strikes with Lawler, who clipped Diaz in the first round that almost ended the night early. But in the second round, Diaz would circle around, sticking and moving, and landed a looping hook that caught Lawler right on the button as he faced planted and was out right away. Diaz had shown that he was more than just a grappler and wasn’t afraid to stand toe to toe with anyone.


After their bout, both fighters would take similar yet different paths in their MMA careers.


Kalani's Corner
Photo Credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

For Lawler, he would have one more bout in the UFC then would go on to fight for other organizations, including EliteXC and Strikeforce. While he would go up and down with his momentum in the wins and loses, his power and willingness to stand and bang made Lawler a fan favorite and always entertaining to watch. He would fight between both welterweight and middleweight and wouldn’t see himself return to the UFC until 2013 when the UFC bought Strikeforce and acquired most of their talent.

Upon his return to the promotion, he would find himself staying at 170lbs and would go 8-1 in his first 9 bouts, including a title victory along with two title defenses. Lawler had changed his image of a mid-card brawler to the main attraction as not only was he putting wins together but having exciting performances time after time. He won several post-fight bonuses, including two fight of the year bouts. Already a fan favorite, Lawler had now made himself into one of the consistent names among the top of the division.

But after such a start in his return to the UFC, Lawler has since gone through a rough patch in his career as he is now 1-5 in his last 6 bouts, including losing his last 4 in a row. Some of those losses you can understand, he suffered a knee injury during the bout, which caused him to basically be a sitting target, and another was a controversial stoppage when the referee thought he had passed out from a choke, but it was shown from another angle via replay that he wasn’t. Nonetheless, Lawler hasn’t gotten back in the groove of things since 2016 and hasn’t had a win since 2017. A return, a win, and a battle against an old foe are more than enough motivation for the Ruthless one to hopefully get back in the winning circle.


For the Stockton Bad Boy, his path after their first go-around also saw its ups and downs.


Kalani's Corner
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Diaz would go to have bouts in promotions like Pride, Dream, EliteXC, and Strikeforce, even captured the Strikeforce welterweight title during his run. He left the UFC in 2006 and wouldn’t return until 2011. During his time away, Diaz would go 11-1-1 (his 1 no contest was originally a win but was overturned after he tested positive for marijuana). During this run, Diaz would grow his fan base and consistently show that he was among the best in the sport of MMA, but the question was always, ‘how would he do back in the UFC?”. Upon his arrival in 2011, he would face former two-division champion BJ Penn in a fight of the night performance that Diaz would be the victor in.

From there, he would face Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight title but came up short in a razor-thin decision. The bout was so close, with many feeling the bout should’ve been a draw or win for Diaz that his next fight would be a title shot against a fellow welterweight foe and all-time great George Saint Pierre. This time the loss for Diaz was clear as GSP ran away with the bout and his feud with Diaz, who ever since his return, was consistently calling for a fight with the Canadian fighter. His next bout was a surprise as he moved up to middleweight to challenge former champion and also all-time great Anderson Silva. Diaz would come up short once again, but his real problems were just beginning.

Both Silva and Diaz would fail their fight drug test, Silva for performance-enhancing drugs and Diaz once again for marijuana. Both were given a suspension, but for Diaz, this was yet another marijuana failure so the Nevada Athletic commission wanted to send a strong message and was trying to suspend Diaz for five years. After a protest from Diaz, the UFC, fans, things would cool over, and Diaz sentenced got reduced but left a sour taste in his mouth. He felt he was being taken advantage of and wasn’t willing to be the poster boy for a commission for a drug that was starting to be more accepted and even legalized in some states. Remember, this was back in 2015. Diaz would walk away from the competition without saying he was retired.

Having other ventures outside the cage to focus on and the emergence of his younger brother Nate Diaz, Nick was willing to sit on the sidelines and enjoy not being punched in the face for a living. Several teases were made over the years about his return, but nothing solid ever came. Whether it was the right match-up, pay, or just the motivation to train and fight again. But now, six years later, Nick Diaz is finally coming back into action to give it one last go.


For both fighters, this is a chance at redemption, a shot at showing they still have what it takes to be among the best and to see if what happened between in 2004 was a fluke or one just has the others number.


This match-up is the longest time between two fights in UFC history, but at 37 and 39 years old, Diaz and Lawler are looking to show they still have some threads left on their tires. Lawler hasn’t won a fight since 2017, and Diaz hasn’t won since 2011. That’s a long time in not having your hand raised, but both have always shown even in defeat, they are true warriors till the end. A return, a rematch, and a shot at redemption, this one bout has so much on the line, and it goes down in September at UFC 266 on PPV.


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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media


Follow Kalani on Twitter @klua11

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