Nick Maximov takes stage alongside mentor at UFC 266

9/24/2021 12:38:31 PM EST

The one and only Nick Diaz is back at UFC 266. An extension of the Diaz legacy will there, too.

The longtime fan-favorite, who for years participated in big fights and earned highlight-reel performances in Strikeforce and the UFC, will rematch Robbie Lawler on the main card portion of the pay-per-view event.

However, elsewhere on the card, one of Diaz's disciples will make his anticipated Octagon debut as Nick Maximov faces Karl Roberson in a middleweight preliminary contest.

Maximov, 23, signed with the UFC a year removed from a victory on Dana White's Contender Series. Notably, the high school wrestling standout fought up two weight classes - giving up a whopping 54.5 pounds in the process - to face Oscar Cota after an opponent falling through.

The Diaz brothers prodigy was a clean 209 pounds for the fight. UFC President Dana White, while declining to sign Maximov directly following the show, gave him props for his willingness to take the fight at all, to say nothing of the unanimous decision victory. White then invited Maximov to participate in the Ultimate Fighter's Season 29 return, but Maximov declined.

In the meantime, Maximov competed extensively on Submission Underground, the submission grappling promotion headed by MMA legend Chael Sonnen. There, he has faced the likes of notable competitive grapplers Joe Baize, Aaron Tiegs, and Micah Brakefield.

Ten months since his Contender Series victory, Maximov will compete for the first time in the UFC Octagon when he faces Karl Roberson, an eight-fight UFC veteran who also graduated from the Contender Series.

Roberson, 30, has lost two straight fights since 2020 to admittedly strong competition; back-to-back submissions to title challenger Marvin Vettori and top prospect Brendan Allen snapped the first two-fight win streak of his UFC tenure.

Roberson has historically struggled against grapplers, with his other UFC losses coming to Cezar Ferreira and Glover Teixeira - both by submission. Thus, the path to victory for the grappling-oriented Maximov is clear.

"He's a very tough first fight but that's what we're in it for," Maximov told Action News Now in August. "The tougher guys, the better guys. Not the tomato cans or anything like that. That's not what we want."

Maximov added, "I see myself probably submitting him, ideally," he said. "I try to think of it with going with the flow. Just seeing what the world does for me at the time."

A submission over Roberson would be a massive win for Maximov to kick off his UFC career, especially on the same card as his mentor Nick Diaz.

--Field Level Media

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