Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler is official for UFC 266

BetOnline has installed 'Ruthless' Robbie Lawler as a favorite for a potential rematch vs. Nick Diaz that's being targeted for UFC 266.

UPDATED on Tuesday, 7/13/21, at 7:20 p.m. Eastern: Yahoo’s Kevin Iole just reported that — per Dana White — Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler is a done deal for 266. Also, updated odds for Diaz-Lawler and other fights on the card are at the bottom of this article.

During an interview with TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter Wednesday afternoon, UFC President Dana White revealed that a rematch between Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler is in the works.

According to multiple reports, the hope of the promotion is for this welterweight clash to serve as the UFC 266 co-main event on Sept. 25. There are reportedly only a couple of details to work out and it’s 90-95 percent done.

Diaz knocked out Lawler early in the second round at UFC 47 on April 2 of 2004. More than 17 years later, ‘Ruthless’ wants revenge from the first meeting that delivered fireworks galore:

Diaz hasn’t fought since losing a unanimous decision — one that was later changed to a no-contest when both fighters failed drug tests — to former middleweight kingpin Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva in the UFC 183 headliner on Jan. 31 of 2015.

(Silva tested positive for steroids after the contest, while Diaz merely tested positive for marijuana. As an ironic side note, the Nevada Athletic Commission (BELATEDLY!) announced today that weed will no longer be considered a banned substance. The NAC went on to suspend Diaz for five years at a hearing in early 2015, although that ruling was later changed on appeal.)

The 37-year-old Diaz (26-9-0-2 MMA, 7-6-0-1 UFC) hasn’t tasted victory since defeating BJ Penn by UD at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 of 2011. After his first run in the UFC, Diaz went 6-0 in the Strikeforce promotion, winning the welterweight title and successfully defending it three times.

Before his first run in the UFC, Diaz won the World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight belt, but he vacated it before getting a chance to defend it. Diaz owns notable career scalps over the likes of Chris Lytle, Jeremy Jackson (twice), Lawler, Josh Neer, Gleison Tibau, Takanori Gomi (although his submission win was changed to a no-contest for a positive marijuana test), Frank Shamrock, Scott Smith, KJ Noons, Evangelista Santos, Paul Daley and Penn.

Diaz’s manager teased a 2021 return late in 2020. Rather than pictures of him partying, Diaz’s social-media posts over the last year and change have been of him working out and appearing to be in outstanding shape.

His potential return has gained momentum in recent months, especially after he attended UFC 261 in Jacksonville in April and met with White afterward. White informed the media that Nick would likely fight before the end of the year.

Lawler (28-15-0-1 MMA, 13-9 UFC), the 39-year-old former UFC welterweight champ, has lost four consecutive fights. He’s only been finished once, though, and that was a controversial stoppage in a first-round submission defeat against Ben Askren.

Lawler is 1-5 in his last six scraps dating back to his first-round KO loss to Tyron Woodley, who captured the 170-pound title with the victory at UFC 201 in Atlanta on July 30 of 2016.

Lawler’s only win since losing the belt was a UD triumph over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, who was given the nod on scorecards by many media members. That was at UFC 214 on July 29 of 2017.

As of July 7, BetOnline had Lawler listed as a -150 favorite vs. Diaz, who was a +130 underdog.

UPDATES: However, as of Sunday (7/11/21), Lawler’s ‘chalk’ odds at BetOnline had been reduced to -140, with Diaz at +120 on the comeback. Shortly after the bout was made official (7/13/21), Lawler was further reduced to -135, leaving Diaz as a +115 underdog at BetOnline. On Wednesday morning, FanDuel opened Lawler as a -136 favorite with Diaz as a +116 underdog.

The initial reporting of this story had Diaz-Lawler targeted as the co-main event. It will not be, though, as the UFC has added a second title fight to the card.

However, it will be a five-round contest. It’s only the second time in the promotion’s history that a non-title bout will be a five-rounder. Of course, the first was for Nate Diaz vs. Leon Edwards last month.

The main event will be Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega in Volkanovski’s second featherweight title defense. Both fighters served as coaches in the recent season of The Ultimate Fighter.

BetMGM has Volkanovski listed as a -200 favorite, with Ortega as a +160 underdog.

The co-main event will pit women’s flyweight queenpin Valentina Shevchenko vs. Lauren Murphy, who has won five fights in a row since the start of 2019. FanDuel opened Shevchenko as a -720 favorite on July 14, with Murphy listed as a +520 underdog.

Finally, FanDuel also opened up betting odds for a heavyweight clash on the morning of July 14. The betting shop has Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes installed as a -240 favorite vs. Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik, who is a +198 underdog.

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