It will be 17 years, 5 months, and 23 days since these 2 warriors first fought when they lock the cage behind them in a few days. Their first fight was a memorable one, it was the 2nd UFC fight for Nick Diaz and the 6th already for Robbie Lawler if you can believe that.
Diaz, then 20, and Lawler, aged 22, first fought at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, on the main card of the UFC 47: ‘It’s On!’ pay-per-view event, headlined by Chuck Liddell’s second-round knockout victory over bitter rival Tito Ortiz in a battle between two of the biggest stars in the sport of mixed martial arts at the time.
On the same card, Andrei Arlovski won by TKO in his short-notice fight against Wesley Correira in what was also Arlovski’s 6th UFC fight, 1 fight prior to becoming UFC Heavyweight Champion.
But the night was really all about Diaz, who arguably stole the show thanks to a memorable performance early in his career.
Lawler, by this stage already being recognized as a future star in the making, was a heavy favorite coming into the fight, and rightfully so.
Among the most devastating strikers in the welterweight division, ‘Ruthless’ had finished all but two of his wins by knockout, including former UFC fighters Tiki Ghosn and Chris Lytle.
Like Lawler, Diaz had also only had a handful of fights at the time but made a name for himself by capturing the vacant IFC welterweight title in just his second professional fight.
Before that, the oldest Diaz brother made his MMA debut at IFC Warriors Challenge 15 in August 2001 and won the fight via triangle choke submission in the first round.
However against Lawler, Diaz decided to switch things up and show off his new and improved striking, much to the amazement of legendary commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg. It was here that Diaz also demonstrated his famous ‘Stockton slap’ at the expense of Lawler, who looked uncharacteristically out of sorts.
Diaz was the aggressor throughout much of the contest and began to land low kicks and significant strikes. But as Lawler tried to close the distance, a right hand caught him flush on the chin and floored him, forcing referee Steve Mazzagatti to call a stop to the contest at 1 minute 31 seconds of the second round.
When these 2 face off again, both as hardened veterans, and Diaz’ first fight in 5 years, here’s hoping to a legendary fight no matter who wins. Both fan favorites, it will be hard to watch either fighter lose. If it is a competitive fight, back and forth, we could be in for a FOY candidate.