When Anderson Silva suffered that gruesome broken leg against Chris Weidman at UFC 168 I thought for sure that was it for “The Spider”. But just over a year later here we are, days away from Silva’s return to the Octagon and I’m filled with mixed emotions. On one hand it will be exciting to see Silva back in action. But on the other hand there is a feeling of dread that father time has finally caught him.

Welcoming Silva back to action at UFC 183 will be none other than welterweight stand out Nick Diaz. Like Silva Diaz is coming back from an extended layoff; following his loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 158 Diaz “retired” from competition. Diaz turned down several fights prior to this one but he jumped at the chance to take the legend that is Silva.

Every year on Super Bowl weekend the UFC puts together a spectacular fight card and this year is no different. While there will be no title on the line on Saturday the 31st UFC 183 is stacked from top to bottom with interesting matchups.

Jordan Mein vs. Thiago Alves

Kicking off the main card on Saturday is a welterweight bout between knockout artists heading in opposite directions. Alves, once one of the most feared strikers in the division, has gone just 3-3 since losing to St. Pierre at UFC 100. Alves has battled several injuries and even though he is coming off of an impressive “Fight of the Night” win over Seth Baczynski, it’s clear Alves isn’t the fighter he once was.

Mein on the other hand has emerged as one of the best young talents in the UFC and he is hungry to take that next step in his career. A win over a fighter like Alves would catapult him up the rankings and put him in position to crack the UFC’s official Top 10.

Alves is still a very dangerous fighter, but with a five inch reach advantage, Mein should be able to keep “The Pitbull” from closing the distance.

Pick: Mein via Unanimous Decision

 

Thales Leites vs. Tim Boetsch

Leites has had one of the most interesting career trajectories of all-time. He lost his UFC debut only to then win five straight; earning him a shot at then UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Following his loss to Silva for the title, Leites dropped a split decision to Alessio Sakara and was release from the promotion. Since then Leites has gone 10-1 and has gone from dangerous grappler to vicious power puncher.

Boetsch on the other hand has cemented himself as the UFC middleweight division’s ultimate gatekeeper; beat Boetsch and move on to bigger and better things, lose to Boetsch and it’s time to make a change.

Boetsch is a tough out for anyone and it will be interesting to see how Leites deals with his power and wrestling. As the more skilled fighter, Leites should win this bout with relative ease, but Boetsch has a way of hanging around and turning the tables.

Pick: Leites via second round Submission

Joe Lauzon vs. Al Iaquinta

Iaquinta is coming off of two impressive TKO wins over two tough opponents and Lauzon is one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport, so this bout is going to be fun to watch. Since losing to Michael Chiesa at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale, Iaquinta has gone 5-1 in the Octagon and has looked more than impressive.

But with that said, Lauzon is a bad matchup all the way around for Iaquinta. Lauzon is one of the most complete fighters in the lightweight division and while he may not be one of the elite of the elite his game is light years ahead of Iaquinta’s right now.

All three of Iaquinta’s losses have come by way of submission and with 18 career wins by way of submission, look for Lauzon to tap the up and comer at some point.

Pick: Lauzon via second round Submission

Tyron Woodley vs. Kelvin Gastelum

Even though Silva vs. Diaz has the potential to be a fun matchup, the bout I’m most excited for at UFC 183 is the co-main event between Woodley and Gastelum. Since winning the TUF 17 middleweight tournament and dropping down to welterweight Gastelum has been on a meteoric rise, and if he is able to secure a win over Woodley, he will be in the thick of the UFC welterweight title picture.

Outside of his UFC losses to Rory MacDonald and Jake Shields, Woodley has been a knockout machine; racking up wins over Jay Hieron, Josh Koscheck, Carlos Condit and Dong Hyun Kim. Woodley has been close to title contention in the UFC, but he always seems to come up short in the big moments.

This should be a great fight between two of the best welterweight talents the UFC has to offer. Gastelum is surging and he has yet to taste defeat in his MMA career, but this is a tough fight for him. Woodley has been competing against the best of the best for a long time now and he is primed and ready to make a title run.

Pick: Woodley via Unanimous Decision

Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz

This bout is either going to be a one sided beating or a back and forth battle between two of the best technical boxers in MMA. If Silva shows up in classic form coming off of that vicious leg break, then I fully expect him to dismantle Diaz. But if he comes in timid or cautious and he allows Diaz to dictate the tempo, he could be in store for more of a fight than he bargained for.

Say what you will about Diaz, when he is on his game he is one of the best in the sport; he’s also one of the toughest fighters to ever compete in the Octagon. Even though Diaz is coming off of an extended layoff himself, I expect him to be as crisp and fluid with his boxing as ever. Historically, Diaz may not be on par with Silva, but at this point in Silva’s career, Diaz could prove to be a dangerous opponent.

Maybe it I’m being naive, but I expect Silva to come in one point and ready to go. He may have some lasting effects from the injury, but I don’t see them coming into play against Diaz; a fighter who traditionally doesn’t attack the legs of an opponent. Silva will never be the fighter he was prior to his losses to Weidman but he will continue to be one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport.

Pick: Silva via third round TKO

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.