Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler UFC 266 Odds & Pick: Where There’s Value in High-Profile Rematch (Saturday, Sept. 25)

Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler UFC 266 Odds & Pick: Where There’s Value in High-Profile Rematch (Saturday, Sept. 25) article feature image
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Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured(L-R): UFC fighters Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler.

  • Two MMA vets, Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler will meet at UFC 266 in a rematch from their 2004 fight.
  • Lawler is a slight favorite over Diaz who has been inactive for six years.
  • Sean Zerillo previews the fight and give his pick in the matchup below.

Nick Diaz vs. Robbie Lawler Odds

Diaz Odds
+140
Lawler Odds
-160
Over/Under
3.5 (-160 / +130)
Venue
T-Mobile Arena
Time
Approx. 11 p.m. ET
Channel
ESPN PPV
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute UFC odds here

UFC veterans Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler will face each other on the UFC 266 main card in a rematch of their fight from nearly two decades ago. This marks Diaz’s first fight since 2015 and and a win on Saturday night would be his first since 2011. Lawler last fought in August 2020 and hasn’t won since 2017.

Below I preview the betting odds and break down this unique matchup. For more analysis on the rest of the card, you can also check out my projections for the entire slate.

Tale of the Tape

Diaz Lawler
Record 26-9 (2 NC) 28-15 (1 NC)
Avg. Fight Time 11:21 11:39
Height 6’1″ 5’11”
Weight (pounds) 170 lbs. 170 lbs.
Reach (inches) 76″ 74″
Stance Southpaw Southpaw
Date of birth 8/2/83 3/20/82
Sig Strikes Per Min 5.43 3.50
SS Accuracy 42% 45%
SS Absorbed Per Min 3.56 4.16
SS Defense 61% 60%
Take Down Avg 1.32 0.68
TD Acc 33% 64%
TD Def 60% 64%
Submission Avg 1.0 0.0

This rematch — more than 17 years in the making — is one of the most bizarre fights in UFC history, and the lead-up to this contest has befitted the matchup.

For starters, Nick Diaz hasn’t competed since UFC 183 (January 2015) and he hasn’t won a bout in nearly 10 years (UFC 137 in October 2011). This fight was originally scheduled for 170 pounds, but Diaz asked the promotion, and Lawler, to move the fight to middleweight just days before the bout.

Moreover, Diaz had some bizarre answers in his pre-fight interviews and the promotional video of his shadowboxing raised some major red flags. Diaz appears to be slow and out of shape after a decade of partying, and there’s a rumor (and apparent video) circulating that he was knocked out by Zab Judah in sparring.

In other words, it’s a typical Diaz fight week. Still, that confluence of factors caused the betting line to steam from a pick’em to nearer to 60% implied for Lawler over the past few days.

This is a rare non-title fight that is scheduled for five rounds, and 25 minutes — as opposed to 15 — figured to play to Diaz’s advantage. Historically, he offers significantly better cardio than Lawler, and would have a stamina advantage in the championship rounds; but I’m no longer convinced that is the case.

Moreover, while Lawler is nearing the end of his career he has no plans to retire and has fought eight times in the Octagon since Diaz last competed, against the highest level of competition, and he remains in training at one of the top camps in the sport (Sanford MMA).

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Diaz vs. Lawler Pick

It’s difficult to break down this fight without discussing all of the external factors since Diaz hasn’t competed in so long and the first matchup (from 2004) is almost irrelevant at this point.

While Diaz offers the superior metrics (+1.87 to -0.66 strike differential) and potentially offers grappling upside too, he may also be a complete shell of his former self. Either man could wind up on their back, given the respective takedown defense of their opponent (60% for Diaz, 64% for Lawler).

As a result, it’s difficult to have much confidence with any take on this fight, but I still projected this bout as I would any other fight and I show value both on the fight to go the distance (projected -132) and on Lawler to win by decision (projected +198).

Given the circumstances, I’m not interested in laying any juice here or making a large wager, so we’ll take a small stab at the plus-money prop that offers the most value: Lawler by points.

The Pick: Robbie Lawler wins by Decision (+260, 0.25u)

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