Mixed Martial Arts is what it is today in part due to the efforts of the two athletes that will square off in the main event at UFC 183. The two legends, Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz, have achieved heights in their careers that fighters dream of, and on Saturday, January 31, 2015, they will step into the octagon to face each other in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nick Diaz hasn’t achieved the same levels of success in the cage as Silva, but his personality and antics have made him a beloved member of the MMA community. Every time his name shows up on a fight card, pay-per-view sales increase. He isn’t just a personality, though. Since 2001, he has competed in almost every major organization, and always reached the top of the division. He has won many and lost some, too. His talents are apparent though, and it is his skill in the cage and on the mic that have earned him the fights that he has received in recent years.

Anderson Silva is a household name. That is saying something in this sport. There are many fighters who obtain championships, and hold on to the title for an extended period of time that still don’t become what Anderson Silva has become. He is a record holder, though, and the majority of his fame in the sport came from his skills in the cage rather than in press conferences. No doubt his star has burned brighter since his matches with Chael Sonnen, but that was a benefit that he received, not something he produced.

Providing canned answers to the American press core, he kept fans at a distance. It was difficult to like him, but he embraced the image that he put forth. Quiet, reserved, and predictable, that is all any journalist would get from him. Inside the cage, it was an entirely different story. He didn’t just beat most of his opponents. He made them look like they didn’t belong in there with him. The most obvious case was when he completely clowned Damien Maia at UFC 112, moving in and out of distance with his hands down, picking his shots, and beating down Maia in a way that was almost hard to watch.

In July of 2013 he was faced with a different kind of opponent, Chris Weidman. A member of what many refer to as the new breed, or next generation, of MMA fighters, Weidman presented Silva with challenges that he hadn’t yet faced. Even still, he was able to shake things up and kind of “big brother” Weidman for a moment during the fight. Weidman regrouped between rounds and came out and decided to do his thing. Silva began do his trade mark feints, and as he was pretending to be rocked, Weidman leveled him. Silva laid still, Herb Dean stepped in to prevent further concussive damage, and we had a new champion.

Many voiced that Silva got caught. He was clowning around too much. With his tenure and the length of time he defended his belt, he was awarded an immediate rematch. In their first outing, Silva had success with leg kicks, and Weidman admitted to having pain in his legs due to it following the fight. He trained checking kicks and in the second round of their rematch Silva threw a leg kick, and Weidman checked it. What followed was one of the most horrific injuries in MMA history. Silva fractured both his tibia and fibula and for a moment he looked like Gumby, with his leg wrapping around Weidman’s leg due to the force of the kick he threw.

It’s been just over a year since he suffered the gruesome leg injury.  He is one of the greatest of all times and doesn’t have anything to prove, yet he is coming back. He is looking at getting a third title shot if he defeats Nick Diaz on Saturday night and that, combined with his time off, is going to create a very motivated Anderson Silva. I doubt the title means much to him anymore, it’s more about beating the man that beat you. He wasn’t just defeated in the first two fights, he was taken out. I’m sure he would prefer riding off into the sunset with at least one win over his most formidable adversary. If he wants to get to that fight, he has to get through Nick Diaz. Here are Anderson Silva’s Keys to Victory.

Speed 

Chris Weidman aside, Anderson Silva’s greatest ability has been being one step ahead of his opponents. He has been out of the cage for just over a year, which is significant, but we have seen fighters spend more time out of competition and successfully return. The issue is the nature of the injury. He recovered fast, and certainly got the best treatment possible, but it’s difficult to imagine that he will come back and be 100%. If he is, Nick Diaz is going to have some big problems.

Keep it Standing

Nick Diaz is a tremendous boxer and has knocked out 13 of his opponents, but if Silva is 100% he has the advantage in the striking department. He will have to be confident in his abilities and utilize his tools. All of them — that includes the tools that led him to defeat in his bouts against Weidman. If he hesitates, Diaz will seize the moment and overwhelm Silva with a barrage of strikes. The hands down, bobbing and weaving, wasn’t just to clown his opponents either. More often than not, he had the speed to avoid any serious damage and his stance allowed him to throw unique strikes that most fighters aren’t used to defending and don’t often see coming. Those are the strikes that turn the lights off if you’re hit by them.

Confidence  

Confidence is what made Anderson Silva, Anderson Silva. He was better than everyone else and he knew it. If he was fighting Weidman again, I would be saying something different, but Diaz isn’t a member of that new school MMA club. He is a member of the living legend club, just like Silva. There is nothing that Diaz is going to do to him that he hasn’t seen before. Not only that, but Silva has achieved higher athletic achievements in MMA at a heavier weight class. Diaz, typically a welterweight, is going to be undersized at middleweight and Anderson walks around at about 200lbs. If his leg is healed, he should come in there just like any fight pre-Weidman and do his thing the way he always has.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.