According to Cesar Gracie, Nick Diaz’s long-awaited return to the octagon was jeopardized.
When he fought Robbie Lawler again at UFC 266 in September, Diaz made his return following an almost seven-year hiatus. The middleweight match was fought, and at the 0:44 mark of Round 3, Lawler could get back at Diaz and TKO him.
Lawler dropped Diaz in the first minute of Round 3 and told him to stand up in a unique fight-ending scenario. Referee Jason Herzog also urged a bloodied Diaz to stand up, but Diaz refused, ending the bout. Diaz unquestionably displayed some rustiness after being away from the cage for years. Still, his longtime coach Gracie says he also entered the bout with a neck injury, which affected his performance.
Coach: Nick Diaz fought Robbie Lawler with major injuries
“So Nick, he went into that fight and his neck was pretty messed up,” Gracie told Submission Radio. “Robbie’s a great, tough fighter and everything. And, Nick was doing great. And then you kind of see Nick kind of just kind of fading as the fight wore on. So, Nick had an operation very recently here seven weeks ago. So, two of the discs had ruptured in his neck before the fight. So, he was having numbness of the hands. That’s why he didn’t make 170. He fought at 185, is cause it was impossible to train. He just didn’t have any strength. He didn’t have what you’re used to, the Nick Diaz, you know, he didn’t have it.
“So, we finally were able to go and he got an operation and he put the titanium discs in his neck. So, he’s feeling great from that right now. And it’s like we’re getting the old Nick back, which is really good. So, now that that’s happened, we’re waiting for the doctors. He’s got another appointment I think next month. And then he should be cleared to start his hard training again. Because right now he can only run and hit the pads and everything. But he definitely wants to fight. And the UFC, I’ve been in contact with them, they just actually called me the other day asking about Nick, and there’s some pretty cool fight options that are in front of us.”