This Saturday’s featured bout at UFC 266 isn’t one of the two title fights at the top of the main card. Instead, it’s a special five-round middleweight fight between the returning Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler.
Diaz vs. Lawler is a rematch from UFC 47 and it’ll be the first time that Diaz has competed since January 2015 when he faced Anderson Silva.
There are a lot of questions surrounding Diaz’s return and how he’ll perform on the night but the betting odds are reasonably tight just one day out from the event. Lawler is a slight betting favorite against Diaz, but what do UFC fighters think about the matchup?
James Lynch asked UFC fighters for their Diaz vs. Lawler predictions before UFC 266 and here’s what they said.
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Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler is a featured bout at this Saturday’s UFC 266 event. The only way to watch UFC 266 live in the United States is by ordering on ESPN+ here.
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Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler predictions
“Oh, Robbie will starch him for sure. Robbie’s power is too much. He got caught the first time they fought like 15-20 years ago back in the early UFC days but I don’t see that happening again. He’s much more skilled. Nick’s been taking his time off, partying, and not even training the last 7-8 years. Robbie, I know, is a good family man and works hard in the gym so there’s no way “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler doesn’t come out with his hand getting raised.”
“I don’t know. I think the fact that Lawler has at least been competitive and been competing not too long ago and Nick Diaz has been so long… I know he’s always working on his cardio and that stuff and he’s known for that type of stuff, I feel like he’ll be able to last but I think Robbie might get the win. I’m looking forward to that, I cannot wait. If Nick Diaz turns up and puts on a show, that’s going to be a big wow factor, and people will be really shouting his name and will be a star reborn again.”
“When’s the last time Nick Diaz fought? And I just saw Robbie fight my buddy Neil last year and he looked good but he’s not the Robbie of old, so I don’t know. I just want it to be a good fight. I want Nick Diaz to do what he did against Anderson and turn it into a joke — I want you to fight. I’d put it [my money] on Robbie because he’s stronger. There’s the added factor of the ring rust. Nick isn’t going to be as sharp because he’s going to have ring rust, it’s been years.”
“Both guys have taken a ton of damage over the years, but with the styles, if Nick Diaz can go back and fight like he used to… if he fights like that I believe Nick Diaz can win. He’s the longer fighter and I don’t think Robbie Lawler’s chin is there anymore. With his style of walking forward and just his style, period, I think he’s going to take some damage. I think Nick Diaz has got it.”
“This fight is like an anomaly because we don’t know what Nick Diaz to expect after so many years. But that first fight was so long ago and it was an awesome fight, so people are excited for it and it makes a lot of sense. Two veterans in the sport and Nick Diaz being out for a while but when push comes to shove I think Robbie Lawler as of late has been more active but he’s also shown hesitation issues where he’s not really pulling the trigger and I think that Nick Diaz no matter how long he has been out he’s going to pull the trigger. He has heavy volume and he’s a guy you just can’t knock out, so I think Diaz is going to put it on him with high volume, heavy volume and get a TKO.”
“I think Robbie Lawler. I think he’s got a lot more left in the tank, he’s been busier, and regardless of what his recent record looks like, he’s been in there with just killers. He hasn’t had any easy fights. Nick Diaz hasn’t fought — that’s a long time, that’s a really long time. And he didn’t look that great in the Andrson Silva fight, either. We all kind of know what Nick Diaz was doing for a while, it seems like hes’ cleaned his life up a lot and living a healthier lifestyle now. But there was 3-5 years there where the only time you saw Nick Diaz was on someone’s Snapchat story or someone’s Instagram story from Vegas just hammered. Even if I thought Nick Diaz would beat Robbie Lawler, I wouldn’t say it out loud because I love Robbie Lawler that much but I truly believe Lawler wins that fight.”
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.