Rumors have circulated in recent days that returning UFC star Nick Diaz is suffering from injuries ahead of his return against Robbie Lawler at UFC 266; rumors that his coach, Cesar Gracie has since denied.

Diaz will finally make his return to the octagon at UFC 266 in a rematch 17 years in the making against Lawler, the former UFC welterweight champion. The fight will take place at middleweight instead of welterweight, and the two sides have been relatively coy when asked for the reasoning behind the switch.

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MMA commentator and former UFC fighter Josh Thomson recently alluded to Diaz getting knocked out during a sparring session in camp and is feeling the effects of the incident. This has been assumed as the reasoning behind why Diaz wanted the fight moved up to 185 pounds, but Gracie tweeted to confirm this was not the case.

“[Nick Diaz] was not injured and never knocked out in sparring,” Gracie tweeted Tuesday.

It’s been six years since Diaz last fought in the UFC octagon against Anderson Silva at UFC 183 in a unanimous decision loss that was later changed to a no-contest. Before that, Diaz had fought for the UFC welterweight title and fell short against then-champion Georges St-Pierre.

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It’s been quite the roller coaster ride for Diaz’s return to the octagon. Diaz served a long suspension stemming from a positive drug test for marijuana following UFC 183 and has been sidelined ever since. He met with UFC president Dana White earlier this year with an intention of fighting again and will finally return this weekend.

While it appears that the Diaz injury rumors may be far-fetched, it’s definitely worth a raise of the eyebrow as to whether or not this could be partially to blame for the last-second weight change. As is so often with a Diaz fight week, the story changes day-to-day.

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What is your prediction for Nick Diaz’s long-awaited return against Robbie Lawler at UFC 266?

Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.