Robbie Lawler turned back the clock enough to get back in the win column with a third-round TKO win over Nick Diaz on the main card of UFC 266 from Las Vegas.
Diaz, who was making his first appearance in six years brought his typical high-volume approach to the fight but it wasn't enough to counteract Lawler's power.
Lawler held nothing back in the early moments of the fight. Ruthless lived up to his nickname, ripping hooks to the ribs of Diaz and getting in his face early.
After the initial outburst, both fighters settled into a more back-and-forth rhythm. Diaz started to throw his signature volume and boxing combinations while Lawler responded with hooks and uppercuts.
The pace didn't slow as the two veterans went to the second round either. Lawler walked down Diaz who was more than happy to slow his opponent's forward progress with combinations and body kicks. However, it was Lawler who finished the round with a flurry.
That ended up being a sign of things to come in the third as Lawler dropped Diaz with a right hand. Lawler walked to the center of the cage to get his opponent to stand back up but he refused and the fight was over.
The win marks Ruthless' first time getting his hand raised since July 2017, when he took a unanimous decision against Donald Cerrone at UFC 214. It snaps a four-fight skid in which Lawler lost to Rafael dos Anjos, Ben Askren, Colby Covington and Neil Magny.
It also officially avenges one of Lawler's 15 career losses. Lawler lost to Diaz in 2004 which seems like about five eras of MMA ago. In fact, the opportunity to run things back against a former opponent like Diaz was one of the reasons Lawler was willing to take the fight.
With 20 years in the sport and 23 appearances in the Octagon one would think this might be a spot where Lawler is ready to walk away from the sport.
Not so fast on that one, though. Lawler balked at the idea when asked about it before the fight.
"Nah, it's not possible," he said when asked by TMZ Sports about walking away (h/t BJPenn.com). "I've been doing this a long time, my body feels good. It's just waiting for good fights that get me excited, and this is one of those fights. Nick Diaz is a big name, and this is going to be a big event."
This may not be the last we see of Lawler's opponent either. The older Diaz brother was making the walk to the cage for the first time in over six years and hinted at wanting to do it again soon regardless of the outcome.
"I definitely want to do this more often, especially if I get my ass whooped," Diaz said, per Nolan King and Ken Hathaway of MMA Junkie. "If I get my ass whooped, I want to come back right away. If I get my ass whooped, I'll come right back.'"
This was far from an ideal comeback, but he was also attempting to knock off a considerable amount of rust. His massive popularity will likely guarantee he at least gets one more shot at getting a win from the UFC.