A little over a year ago Anderson Silva suffered one of the ugliest injuries in UFC history and many wondered if he would ever compete again. Fast forward to today and Silva is ready to make his Octagon return against UFC bad boy Nick Diaz at UFC 183 on Saturday, January 31st.

Even though he is coming off of a long injury layoff, Silva is heavily favored in the bout . . . but don’t sleep on Diaz. He might not be the best fighter to ever step into the cage with Silva, but he is dangerous none the less.

Love him or hate him, Diaz is one of the best in the sport and even though he is coming off of an extended layoff due to “retirement”, at just 31, Diaz is still in his physical prime. In the past Silva has made some of the best fighters in the world look like amateurs, but at 39 and coming off of broken leg, Silva seems to be declining and Diaz has the tools to beat the former champ.

Leg Kicks

Kicks have never been a big part of Diaz’s arsenal but he should use some early to test the legs of Silva. Coming off of that broken leg, it’s unclear of how Silva will respond to being hit in the legs and that could open other things up. If Diaz can distract Silva with leg strikes then he can open up his arsenal of boxing weapons more effectively.

Silva is arguably the greatest fighter in the history of MMA and if Diaz doesn’t mix things up, Silva will find an opening and put him to sleep. Diaz has to be crafty and he has to at least make Silva think about leg attacks.

Head Movement

While it drives most people crazy, Diaz’s talking and sticking his chin out during fights is a huge weapon. Diaz has an innate ability to get inside the head of an opponent and he forces them the make mistakes — that won’t happen with Silva. Silva is as cool as they come in the cage and he doesn’t get thrown off of his game.

Playing that game with Silva can and will result in being knocked out. Diaz has taken some big shots from some tough fighters in the past but no one with the power and precision of Silva. Silva has knocked out 11 fighters in the Octagon and he has done it a number of ways. Diaz needs to avoid damage because baiting Silva will end badly.

Tempo

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all” is one of the most iconic quotes in sports and it’s something that Diaz knows better than most. Most people view boxing as the best piece of Diaz’s game but in truth, it’s his cardio. Diaz trains like a maniac and he regularly competes in triathlons. Diaz knows that if he sets a high pace early and maintains that pace throughout the fight that eventually his opponent will break.

Silva has never had noticeable cardio issues in the past but he’s never come off of an extended layoff and he’s never fought at the pace Diaz will look to fight at. If Diaz can dictate the tempo and pace of the fight, he just might be able to break the will of Silva. It won’t be easy, but Diaz has the gas tank to break just about anyone.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.