Diaz will make his first octagon appearance in over six years this Saturday when he takes on Robbie Lawler in a five-round middleweight rematch at UFC 266. The event takes place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
St-Pierre defeated Diaz via unanimous decision at UFC 158 in March 2013 in a grudge match. “Rush,” who was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on Thursday, spoke with reporters prior to the award and was asked about his former rival’s return to competition.
“That’s a big x-factor,” St-Pierre said. “Will he come back as good as he was? Does the layoff have a negative impact on him? I don’t know.
“I just hope that he will come back as good as he was because I’m afraid he’s left a lot of money on the table. I’m hoping I’m wrong, and I’m hoping he comes back even better than he was and goes for the title. I really enjoy watching him fight.”
The first meeting between Diaz and Lawler took place over 17 years ago at UFC 47, where Diaz stopped Lawler in the second round of their April 2004 bout. The Stockton native’s will look to pick up his first victory since earning a decision win against B.J. Penn in the main event of UFC 137 in October 2011.
It has been an interesting fight week for Diaz with weight class changes, missed promotional media obligations, and an interview with ESPN that had some folks concerned about Diaz’s mindset heading into the fight—even stating he hates fighting in general.
St-Pierre has had similar thoughts throughout his incredible career.
“I can relate to that. I hate fighting as well,” St-Pierre explained. “I hate it and I used it as a benchmark to get me to where I want to get to in life. I don’t like fighting. It’s the worst day of my life the day that I fight, but I used that [to make me successful] in life because I enjoy the freedom, the health, the fitness, the wealth, the access to things that people do not have.
“There’s a lot of advantages, but you need to pay the price a few times a year if you want to be a fighter among the elite.”