We only have rumors these days when referring to Nick Diaz. Since retiring after a hard fought loss against GSP in March 2013, he walked away from the sport in to a perpetual ocean of conjecture and whispers, most of which involving talk of his return, never failing to surface at some point during events and pressers of late.
Having dropped back to back losses in only the second time in his career since his first exit from the big show when he dropped three decisions against Diego Sanchez, Joe Riggs, and Sean Sherk, maybe it’s time for Diaz to stay gone for good.
Let’s face it; he can’t compete against high level wrestlers or technically proficient point fighters in the sport. Well he can compete, but he can’t win. In his fight against Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight championship of the world, he found himself baited in to chasing a back pedaling opponent around the cage for five rounds, eating punches and kicks occasionally, never really accruing damage from the blows, but unable to trap Condit to lay down the grinding pressure punches he loved to dole out in bunches.
These types of new breed fighting techniques were not what Diaz signed up for and yet at UFC 171, he was yelling at the fights and afterward talking to the press. Of course the press asked why he was taunting the champ at the weigh-ins and the fight itself, but Diaz claimed he was just making a little fun. Hell he was probably just enjoying his retirement as a fan of something he studied ardently and gave sweat, blood, and tears too for years.
But then again, he said he would like to return. Of course Diaz would like a shot at the champ and that’s not going to happen since he hasn’t fought since losing matches for the belt twice in early 2013.
Enter the age of returning heroes from ages past and times thought long dead. While Diaz was away, an unlikely warrior from the Pat Miletich era when UFC gloves were logo free and the cage was not allowed in most states has emerged and captured the number one contender spot in the welterweight division.
Even more incredibly, this is a man who has woken up on the canvas in the past with none other than Diaz himself standing over him in triumph. Robbie Lawler is a renewed man in a division he hadn’t been actively contending in for years. Since leaving the promotion the first time after suffering a loss at UFC 50 against Evan Tanner (plus Nick Diaz himself before that at UFC 47), he’s been exchanging wins and losses in between capturing titles in both Elite XC and Strikeforce.
The beauty of a matchup for Diaz against Lawler goes further than the fact he’s beaten the man in the past. Lawler will brawl it out. That’s exactly what Diaz needs and the UFC as well in the wake of losing star power in 2013.
Where other fighters are prone to tackling Diaz and holding him down or utilizing the opposite strategy to engage as little as possible by employing guerilla warfare tactics in a hit and run point fest, Lawler will take it to Diaz until somebody falls. It’s an extremely marketable fight to promote since Lawler is considered the #1 contender and Diaz holds an incredible amount of star power at the moment.
Whether Diaz will be able to recreate the magic of old in his fists when he blasted Lawler, dropping him with a solid right in 2004, it remains to be seen. Therein lies the drama and the mystique needed to build a truly epic main event ordeal.
Everyone loves a story rife with nostalgia, and this is the fight capable of recreating such dramatic prose, if not for the last time.