Robbie Lawler (heart) urges Nick Diaz (proper) to face upCooper Neill/Getty Images
My identify is Scott. I’m a giant fan. Big fan. I ponder what number of occasions you hear that in a day, particularly within the days main as much as Saturday’s UFC 266. Once you contact down in Las Vegas, the gravitational heart of the preventing world, I wager the eye and the adoration are fixed.
What’s the factor your followers ask you about essentially the most? The title bout with Carlos Condit? Your rivalry with Georges St-Pierre? Your gogoplata-ing of Takanori Gomi in Pride 33 that turned a no-contest after you popped for weed? The Nashville Brawl? That time you laid down within the cage throughout your combat with Anderson Silva?
Or possibly it was a type of well-known Nick Diaz soundbites. You’re all the time brutally unfiltered in feedback about your opponents, the UFC, your self or no matter else is up for dialogue. You’re genuinely humorous, even after I cannot inform if it is intentional or not.
Those are all nice recollections, however on Saturday, we realized that nostalgia is not sufficient. In the exhausting, chilly actuality of the current, you suffered maybe the worst lack of your profession to Robbie Lawler, a person you knocked out in 2004 again at UFC 47. This time he acquired the TKO, however the ending got here in a really unorthodox style, even for you. And this time, it wasn’t cute.
NICK. DIAZ. IS. BACK.[ @NickDiaz209 | #UFC266 ] https://t.co/ZhLtZqioJu
In the opening minute of the fourth spherical, Lawler dropped you in your bottom with a verify proper hook. For a second, it regarded as in case you have been going to lie again within the common image for Lawler to hitch you on the bottom. As you’re a high-level jiu-jitsu participant, Lawler properly declined, as an alternative backing up and waving his palms within the common image so that you can rise up so the brawl may proceed.
Instead, you stated one thing to the ref, and the ref waved off the bout. Just like that, it was over by TKO (retirement) at 44 seconds of the third spherical. Your nostril was bleeding, however not egregiously. There was no obvious harm, both throughout or after the fight-ending sequence. You did not faucet or attempt to rise up. You stated one thing to the ref, and it was over.
John Locher/Associated Press
“I’m glad at the least I placed on a present,” you, wanting sheepish, instructed ESPN broadcaster Daniel Cormier within the cage after the combat. “I assume I had it coming,” you added, in an obvious reference to the unique bout.
Your conduct throughout combat week and earlier than raised eyebrows. Your fight-week request to contest the bout up at middleweight and your slurring, rambling interviews all have been regarding, as you have been seemingly unable to maintain a thought in your head for for much longer than a couple of fleeting moments. More particularly, you repeatedly stated point-blank this week that you just did not wish to combat and that you just’re undecided how or why the combat was ever made.
Put the whole lot collectively—the combat, your said reluctance to be in there, and, oh, the six-plus-year layoff that preceded your bout Saturday—and a contemporary new message emerges on the proverbial wall. You’ve heard the roar of the gang one final time and cashed one final paycheck. Save your self and your mind and your dignity and journey into the Stockton sundown as one in every of this sport’s true inimitable figures.
It’s not one thing I relish writing, however I relish it much more than watching you stumble via one other combat night time or information cycle.
John Locher/Associated Press
Even regardless of all this, you regarded fairly good—dare I mess up the premise of this text by calling it traditional Diaz?—for vital swaths of the combat. You’d solely been knocked out twice earlier than Saturday, and as you survived an early Lawler barrage it appeared your chin was intact. Then got here these well-known one-two combos. You peppered Lawler with jabs and uppercuts, and when you’ve by no means been an influence puncher, the amount piled up. Your palms are like bloodhounds, all the time sniffing out the openings. Your hand velocity wasn’t nice, however it did not appear to matter as your fists hit residence. According to official stats, you linked on 150 of a whopping 339 strikes. You threw 176 within the first spherical alone—nearly greater than ladies’s flyweight champ Valentina Shevchenko in her total combat.
Now do not get it twisted: Lawler most likely received each rounds, however you made it aggressive, possibly even shut.
Marc Raimondi @marc_raimondi
Nick Diaz is just the twelfth fighter in UFC historical past to land 150 vital strikes in a loss — and all the opposite fights went longer than this one did towards Lawler, per @ESPNStatsInfo. #UFC266
The crowd had spent a lot of the combat chanting Diaz’s identify, and so they have been doing so early within the third when that verify proper hook from Lawler dropped you want a bag of filth. And then it ended. It was simply that abrupt.
Afterward, you tried with little success to clarify the loss to Cormier.
“I had quite a lot of stress coming into this one,” you stated. “I’ve been off a very long time. Yeah, I haven’t got no excuses—I’ve been off a very long time. I do not understand how this combat acquired arrange. I had a switch-up in my complete, uh, you recognize, administration set-up. It was only a bum rap. But no excuses. I had it coming, and he was in nice form.”
Cormier, who like the remainder of the UFC broadcast group is cripplingly allergic to criticism or “controversy,” did not ask Diaz about his choice to not proceed. The closest you got here to addressing it by yourself was a notice that “I knew I used to be leaking right here, so I did not wish to make an excessive amount of of a multitude.”
Luke Thomas @lthomasnews
I do not begrudge Diaz that decision by any means.
But it is exhausting to look at that efficiency and pair that with pre-fight speak of not wanting to do that after which marvel if it is one thing he ought to preserve doing.
It’s your proper to not proceed—frankly, I want extra fighters took benefit of that possibility. But yours simply appeared so sudden and unhappy, particularly primarily based on what you’d been saying this week.
Let’s additionally not neglect the robust effort out of your opponent. At age 39, Lawler is definitely a 12 months older than you and got here in on a four-fight shedding skid. After the combat, he gave you respect befitting a legend. He additionally referred to a weapon he had landed a couple of occasions within the combat that appeared to take quite a lot of starch out of your sails: a sneakily vicious digging physique shot.
“I anticipated him to deliver it to me, push the tempo and attempt to break me, and I used to be proper there with him,” Lawler instructed Cormier. “But it was a enjoyable combat. … I’ve all the time had respect for Diaz. He brings it each time he steps within the ring. … I caught him with a pair good physique pictures, however he was doing quite a lot of work, making an attempt to roll. He did an important job—I used to be simply relentless tonight.”
Even extra relentless is Father Time—it is a cliche as a result of it is true—and he is rather a lot nearer than he might seem in your rearview. You cannot conceal your 38 years, your 38-fight profession, or the deep-grained rust that comes from an prolonged shelf time that noticed you compete solely six occasions within the final 10 years.
I’d guess you possibly can hear Father Time speaking this speak. On Saturday, you noticed him stroll his stroll. Now it is time to observe in his footsteps.