I don’t know about anyone else, but Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler 2 was everything I wanted.
Like most rational fight fans, I have a great deal of admiration for both men. Diaz may be divisive, but his championship accomplishments in multiple promotions and contribution to the development of MMA — some credit goes to Diaz for the wave of high-volume strikers who currently dominate the scene — deserve respect even if he’s not your personal cup of tea. Similarly, Lawler’s championship run is the stuff of fairy tales, and Welterweight will never be more fun than during his title reign.
Both men are fighter’s fighter. Each grinded for years and years, suffered setbacks and losses en route to building their current legacy. Neither backed down from a scrap. If they walked away long before this match up, it would not have harmed their reputations. In fact, most of us had pretty much assumed Nick Diaz had already done just that. This return was a complete surprise, and the initial announcement was met with hesitation and questioning looks.
Despite the apprehension, the fight couldn’t have gone much better for fans of the sport of MMA and its legends.
Diaz opened the fight as only he could: a slow-motion spinning kick and glacial takedown attempt. Lawler responded in typical “Ruthless” fashion: with violence. He attacked, immediately disregarding any theoretical lessons learned about not blowing one’s load vs. a Diaz. Instead, he attacked full bore with gnarly punches and knees.
For the next 10 or so minutes, both men put on great displays of why they’re heroes. Diaz strung together combinations, ripped the body, and generally looked very composed under fire. His punches were slower and carried a bit less sting than in 2015, but that Richard Perez boxing was still very recognizable. Similarly, Lawler’s explosions of lead hand violence, defensive slickness, and powerful left kick were all reminiscent of his own run up the Welterweight ladder.
The action was back-and-forth, and the fight was up for grabs.
Ultimately, a Lawler right hook ended the fight. From the outside looking in, it’s impossible to say if Diaz called off his own fight because he was too hurt to continue, injured his knee on the way down, or simply didn’t want to be there anymore. Whatever the reason, Diaz waved “No Mas” and avoided taking further damage.
Good. If we’re talking about a top contender attempting perhaps the only title run of his professional career, I understand leaving it all out there, being willing to die in the cage. At nearly 40 years of age, however, Diaz had no real reason to keep fighting — he’d already given us a show.
Lawler looked dangerous in his best performance in years. Diaz returned rusty, but some of that classic Diaz spark was certainly still there. If they match him up appropriately (and he wants to keep fighting), another Nick Diaz match up would still sell pay-per-views. Both men fought hard, and neither took an absurd amount of damage.
What better outcome was there?
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