Unfortunately, Robbie Lawler also looked better than ever as he came out like a bull charging at a matador, determined to pour on the punishment and never give Diaz time to breath in their rematch.
While Diaz managed a valiant effort, he ultimately succumbed to strikes just 44 seconds into the third round after Lawler dropped him with a big right hooked followed with a nasty uppercut behind it on the ground. Once it was clear Diaz wasn’t going to get back to his feet, referee Jason Herzog called a stop to the contest with Lawler being rewarded with the TKO victory.
Afterwards, Diaz refused to take away from Lawler’s performance by somehow blaming the long layoff for the loss and instead he was just happy that the fans seemed to love the fight.
“I’m glad I at least put on a show,” Diaz said during his post-fight interview. “I knew I had it coming. Old Rob. I had a lot of stress coming into this one, especially being off a long time. I don’t have no excuses. I had a long time off and I knew I had it coming.”
Prior to UFC 266, Diaz seemed to have some misgivings about how he actually ended up with Lawler as his opponent once he decided to return to fighting.
That same confusion was still confounding Diaz following his loss, but he certainly doesn’t want any of that to take away from Lawler’s performance at UFC 266.
“I don’t know how this fight got set up,” Diaz said. “I had a whole switch up in my management setup, the way that the fight got set up. It was just a bum rap.
“But no excuses, I had it coming, he was in great shape. I knew I was leaking [blood] here so I didn’t want to make too much of a mess. I’m glad to be back. I’m glad to put on a show.”
Once he was out of the cage, Diaz cleaned up and left the arena with his team rather than stick around for any interviews or the post-fight press conference so it’s unclear if this comeback fight was a one-time occasion or if he plans to compete again.
Regardless, Diaz still put on a show and it was clear by his reception that six years away didn’t stop an adoring audience for showering him with love in his return to the cage.