This Saturday features a monumental pay per view headlined by a superfight that hardcore MMA fans have always dreamed of, former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will face former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz. UFC 183 may not be absolutely stacked top to bottom, but it has a solid and intriguing undercard leading up to a fight between two polarizing and exceptional fighters in Silva and Diaz. Both Silva and Diaz are coming off of long layoffs, Silva due to a complete and angulated fracture of the tibia and fibula in his left leg after Chris Weidman checked his leg kick in December of 2013. This is a fight that was solely a hypothetical thought years ago when Diaz was the welterweight king in Strikeforce and Silva was reigning over the middleweight division with what appeared to be invincibility.
Now that both men don’t have titles and are coming in with 2 fight losing streaks, the UFC is using their combined star power on the traditionally popular Super Bowl weekend to make up for the terrible year that was 2014 when looking at pay per view buys, as it was one of the lowest in the past 10 years based on averages. Last year had so few pay per view buys that the UFC had to permanently raise pay per view prices from $54.99 to $59.99 to offset production costs.
Silva was forced to undergo surgery, have an intramedullary rod inserted in his tibia to support the healing of the bone, and after surgery Silva went through physical therapy at a blistering pace that no one expected. Silva was walking in a matter of weeks, kicking in a matter of months and will be able to go through a full training camp in preparation for his scrap with Diaz, where Silva will be looking to return to the form that once lead him to a 16 fight winning streak in the UFC, along with a number of other records in the process.
Diaz is coming off of a two fight losing fight similar to Silva as both of his fights were for a title, first against Carlos Condit for the interim welterweight belt and then against Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight belt. Diaz was not injured in either fight, but much akin to his wild and unpredictable personality, announced that he was done with MMA after both fights barring the right fight to train for, and this bout with Silva fell into that category. Diaz has a long history of trash talking opponents, and Silva has had a history of taking any offensive comments personally and bringing that anger to the cage, especially evident in the build up to the second fight that Silva had with Chael Sonnen.
Stylistically, this fight has the potential for fireworks, as Silva is a risk taking counter striker who will feel out his opponent for however long it takes to figure out their timing, and upon solving the puzzle he will take risks, slip, block or roll with shots and land his own strikes that would end the fight at any moment, Diaz is a boxer that only knows how to come forward with heavy pressure and volume striking, Diaz won’t find a 1-punch or kick knockout but will overwhelm his opponents with his never-ending cardio, enabling him to throw dozens of sharp punches until his foe drops, and earn a TKO or submission victory on the ground. Diaz is a highly touted submission artist, but lacks a wrestling-heavy game to take the fight to the ground at will, Silva also lacks wrestling credentials and since both men have fair takedown defense, there is little likelihood that the fight will go to the ground unless a knockdown is involved. If the fight doesn’t go to the ground, which is certainly likely, Diaz will have no chance to display his abilities as a highly touted Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt over fellow BJJ black belt Silva.
I think the fight will start with Diaz immediately closing the distance to use his volume-heavy boxing to tag Silva, Silva will struggle to figure out the timing of Diaz for a few minutes. Diaz will have to choose his striking distance wisely, because the longer fighter in Silva has good kicks and will use the kickboxing range to time counters, and if Diaz gets too close Silva will clinch up with him and brutalize him with his strength and muay thai advantage. Diaz will have to keep this fight at boxing range, just before kickboxing range and just out of striking range to have a chance on the feet. Diaz is very good at finding that range, but Silva will still time Diaz after allowing enough time to calculate his movements, like a computer reading a new document for the first time. After Silva figures out the timing of Diaz he will dodge, dip, duck, slip, block and roll with the punches of Diaz, utilize superior control and striking in the clinch, and find a fight-ending strike to finish Diaz in dramatic fashion near the end of the first round.
What are your thoughts on this monumental matchup set to air on on Pay Per View tonight? Please comment below with any ideas and feedback.