Nick Diaz loses in return fight, champions retain at UFC 266

Image: Zuffa LLC

Saturday’s UFC 266 in Las Vegas, Nevada, saw both defending champions retain their respective titles while Nick Diaz lost in his first fight in more than than five years in a third round TKO loss to Robbie Lawler.

Diaz called it a night at 44 seconds of the third round following being dropped by a Lawler right hand to his nose. When the referee asked him if he wanted to continue, Diaz shook his head and the fight was stopped. This was a rematch of their 2004 fight that Diaz won by second round knockout.

It was Diaz’s first fight since a unanimous decision loss to Anderson Silva in January 2015 that was later overturned due to Silva testing positive for PEDs. After originally slated to be at welterweight, Diaz asked for it to be at middleweight instead days before the fight which Lawler agreed to.

Even with the absence and extra weight, both rounds were competitive with Diaz landing 150 significant strikes, becoming just the 12th fighter in UFC history to do so in a loss according to ESPN Stats & Information. Of note, all the other eleven fights went longer than this did.

In the main event, Alexander Volkanovski retained his UFC men’s featherweight title with a unanimous decision win over Brian Ortega in what is being called a fight of the year candidate.

The 32-year-old champion has now won 20 straight fights (ten in the UFC) and has two title defenses since winning the belt in December 2019. This was Ortega’s second opportunity at the gold. After being unbeaten in his first 15 career fights, he has now lost two of his last three. 

In the co-main event, it was another normal night at the fighting office for women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko as she picked up a fourth round TKO win over Lauren Murphy. It’s the sixth title defense for the dominant champion and her eight straight win overall. It’s likely she will face women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion Amanda Nunes for the third time next.

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