On the pay-per-view’s main card, Diaz made the walk to the Octagon for the first time in over six years. He’d last been in action against the legendary Anderson Silva in 2015. Having been out of action for so long, and being without a win in MMA since a victory over BJ Penn in 2011, no one knew what to expect from the Stockton native when he took to the cage inside Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
Despite falling short of a second win against Lawler, Diaz showed some glimpses of his old self. The volume from both men through two rounds was relentless, and we got to see some classic boxing combinations and exchanges. While he may not have had the stamina and speed he once had, Diaz certainly put on a show before succumbing to “Ruthless” in the third frame.
While the MMA community is largely split when it comes to Diaz’s performance on the night, one man has praised the fan favorite. Dana White has lauded the 38-year-old’s efforts at UFC 266 despite him being finished for the first time since 2007.
Speaking in the aftermath of this week’s episode of Dana White’s Contender Series, the UFC kingpin suggested that Diaz’s display was impressive, especially considering how long he’d been away from the sport.
“I thought Nick Diaz looked incredible, considering he hasn’t fought in (six) years. I don’t know what I was expecting. You never know what to get with the brothers. But let me tell you what, with a (six-year) layoff, I thought he looked unbelievable.
“That first round—and I don’t know if you guys saw Robbie after the fight, but Robbie had friggin’ knots and lumps all over him. Those two went to war. The fight itself exceeded my expectations because Nick hadn’t fought in five years. I thought Robbie was just gonna go out there and buzzsaw through him. And that was not the case.”
When asked if he expects to see Diaz compete again despite the late weight class change and his comments about fighting in the week prior to last weekend’s event, White said he’s unsure of the Stockton star’s status, but reiterated his pleasant surprise at Diaz’s performance.
“Those are the kind of things I expect from the Diaz brothers. But I don’t know. I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. But he looked damn good. That kid’s got a massive heart. He’s obviously a super-talented fighter. And yeah, I was impressed.”
What did you make of Nick Diaz’s performance at UFC 266?