Nick Diaz will be close to an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title shot with a win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 266, according to his teammate and former Strikeforce Lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez.
Diaz vs. Lawler serves as a marquee fight on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 266: “Volkanovski vs. Ortega,” which will take place this weekend (Sat., Sept. 25, 2021) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, streaming online via ESPN+. Melendez — who has not competed since July 2019 — explained what Diaz’s return to UFC means for ranked fighters. (This interview was uploaded prior to the news that Diaz vs. Lawler was moving from Welterweight to Middleweight).
“It’s huge — it’s a win for everybody,” Melendez said on MMA Fighting’s Fighter vs. Writer podcast. “If I’m Brian Ortega and [Alexander] Volkanovski, I’m pumped that I have these guys on the card that I’m headlining. These guys are going to bring eyeballs to me. If Nick is successful and he wins, of course, he’s in title contention. Everyone’s going to campaign to fight him. Everyone wants to challenge the legend. It only brings your stock up.
“We recognize now we’re not in the fight business, we are in the entertainment business,” Melendez continued. “So you have to be a great fighter but you also have to entertain. You could be Conor McGregor with a 1-2 record and come back and just sell out arenas and they’re going to get the right fights because of that. So yes, it would be huge for Nick to be back, to win. All of a sudden, he might be directly for a title shot.”
Melendez won the Strikeforce 155-pound championship on two occasions and served as the promotion’s final Lightweight titleholder. He challenged for UFC’s Lightweight title twice: losing a split decision to Benson Henderson in 2013 and suffering a submission loss to Anthony Pettis in 2014. His impressive resume includes wins over Jorge Masvidal, Diego Sanchez, Shinya Aoki, Josh Thomson (twice) and Clay Guida, among others.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 266 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPNEWS/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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