Nick Diaz made his return to the octagon after over six years out of competition and one coach is questioning whether that long layoff was too much to overcome.
In an interview with Submission Radio, coach Eugene Bareman—who cornered both featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski and Dan Hooker to victories this past Saturday in Las Vegas—was asked for his thoughts on Diaz’s loss to Robbie Lawler, which took place on the main card of UFC 266. Competing in his first fight since January 2015, Diaz succumbed to strikes early in the third round to his old rival, a result that was not entirely surprising given the circumstances.
Diaz’s fight week demeanor raised eyebrows as his bout with Lawler was abruptly bumped up to a 185-pound contest and Diaz at times sounded reluctant to compete (an attitude that wasn’t new for him). In the aftermath of his loss, Bareman speculated that Diaz was not nearly as prepared as he could have been and maybe shouldn’t have fought at all.
“I’m a little bit disappointed, I guess,” Bareman said (transcription via Denis Shkuratov). “I mean, I came through the ranks watching Nick Diaz. And a guy who’s been out that long and apparently had six weeks to train with—Was it six years, I think? And then why did he only have a six-week training camp? That’s crazy. You can’t do that to someone.
“As good a fighter as he is, which he showed, he should never have been in there. He should never have been in there. And we can speculate about the reasons he was in there. He was obviously a big draw, he brings a lot of eyes to the sport, to the pay-per-view and stuff, but you can’t have six years off, jump in against someone who’s been regularly fighting, someone who’s as good as Robbie Lawler, do a six-week training camp and come in there and expect to perform.”
Depending on who you ask, Diaz put on a serviceable performance, but seeing him finished for the first time since 2007 was cause for some alarm. At 38, it’s unclear what the future holds for Diaz, especially given his aforementioned disdain for fighting.
Bareman credits Diaz’s talent and experience with getting him through the Lawler fight. Regarding the damage that Diaz has taken throughout his 38-fight career, Bareman isn’t making any assumptions about how his health may or may not have affected him.
“It was only the legend of Nick Diaz and just his natural ability and heart that kept him in that fight as long as it did,” Bareman said. “You could see that he was just out of shape and he just wasn’t conditioned or ready for the fight.
“I’m not gonna speculate whether that’s because he’s gotten old, for the moment it’s a better guess for me to say it was just because he had six years off and he had a p*ss-poor training camp. If he has that magnificent training camp, gets plenty of notice, he’s got one fight under his belt and then he comes in and has a fight and you can see some neurological signs of deterioration and you can see some of those things, those telltale signs of someone who’s a little bit too old for the sport. If you see that in his next fight after his training camp, then we can start to make some conclusions on that, but for now, the reason we saw what we saw I think we have to put it down to six years off and a very poor training camp. You can’t come to the conclusion that it’s just ‘cause he’s old or neurologically damaged.”
Watch Bareman’s full interview with Submission Radio, including his thoughts on Volkanovski possibly fighting Max Holloway a third time, and more: