UFC 183 was a card filled up with good matchups, but of course the focus was on Anderson Silva’s return to the octagon. The former Middleweight Champion was set to make a comeback after being off for over a year with a broken leg. Everyone, including me, wanted to see if the best MMA fighter ever could actually be the fighter he was before Chris Weidman knocked him out in their first bout, then shattered the Spider’s leg in the rematch. Hightlights from the Anderson Silva vs Nick Diaz fight are below.
One of the matchups leading to the main event was Al Iaquinta versus Joe Lauzon. These two fighters fought a good first round that Lauzon had the edge in at the bell. The second round is when things heated up a bit. Lauzon got dropped with a hook and a straight hand by Iaquinta. To his credit, Lauzon made it to his feet. It was just a matter of time though before his brain failed his willpower as he was rocked again as he wobbled across the octagon. The ref mercifully called a stop to the beating once it was clear the fighter was not going to be able to defend himself. Iaquinta got the win via TKO.
The fight just before Diaz and Silva met up was Kelvin Gastelum v. Tyron Woodley in a welterweight battle. This three rounder was a slow paced affair in the first round. Woodley appeared to be the most physically imposing fighter, but we have all seen that is not the deciding factor in these things. Gastelum threw a good many kicks, but failed to land anything significant. Woodley landed a heavy blow with about two minutes to go in the round. Gastelum got in a couple of nice leg kicks and was the aggressor in this first round just as he was in the rest of the fight. Woodley was content to counter and pick his spots. He was not as busy, but made his punches count.
The second round was similar to the first. Woodley showed he was the more skilled guy, while Gastelum kept pressing the action at all times. Gastelum hit a nice combo early in the round and followed that up with good leg kicks. Woodley stunned his foe with a straight right hand then punished him more with a good shot to the body. After hurting Gastelum somewhat, Woodley stopped retreating and turned up the offense a bit. He was never hurt by his opponent so running was pointless. The last 30 seconds of the round saw a good exchange between the two in a fight that was all stand up at this point. Gastelum took some big shots in round two, but was never in any danger. Guy has a good chin.
Gastelum came out fast for the final round, but got cut early on. I felt like a knockout was a real possibility as Woodley was getting clean shots, but it never came. The last few seconds of the round were nice as both fighters fought hard. Gastelum landed a perfect uppercut, but also got stunned by another Woodley right. Woodley won on a decision in a battle that saw almost as many significant strikes by each guy as total strikes.
The main event finally arrived and Anderson Silva got back in the ring that he had to be carried out of over a year ago. I noticed one guy heckling Silva from the front row which was laughable. This little prick would be too frightened to even meet Silva’s eyes in a dark alley, but was very confident in a public arena with security everywhere.
Nick Diaz had not fought in close to two years so this was a battle of ring rust among the other story lines. Round one was a bizarre one with Nick Diaz talking junk to Silva from the jump. He even laid down in the middle of the octagon at one point, nearly turned his back to Silva, then leaned back on the cage and invited The Spider in. He clearly wanted to get in the head of Anderson Silva with this show. The Brazilian was not amused as he stuck to his game plan. He got Diaz’s attention with a clean right as Silva grabbed at his opponent’s throat as he hit him!
Round two was more of the same from Diaz. He kept taunting Silva and acting up. This appeared to be a real strategy and not just him acting like a clown. I believe he wanted a dirty boxing showdown and kept waiting on Silva to come inside. He knew how Silva had dominated past fighters by feeling them out and once he had their timing down, he simply countered them into unconsciousness. Silva never went for it though. He stayed outside most of the fight. He did damage when he got close to Diaz as he appeared to be able to push the smaller fighter around. There was a good exchange between the men with less than two minutes left in the round. Diaz ended the round wanting more action after the bell and a small cut on his eye.
Round three saw Silva land some more leg kicks. He used this technique despite his injury, although most were with his right leg. The Spider went on the attack halfway through this round and Diaz had the marked up face to prove it. Diaz did connect with a right hand of his own to show his resilience. He was relaxed this whole fight and not scared at all of the ever dangerous Silva. Nick Diaz worked in a nice combination late in the third, but had little power behind it.
The fourth round went no better for Diaz, who just was not busy enough to get points. Without the official stats you would never believe that he threw more strikes than Silva. It was Silva who connected on his strikes however, which is no surprise for one of the most accurate strikers in UFC history. The Spider missed one kick that would have killed Diaz had it connected. I felt the wind in my living room. Diaz kept dancing and profiling in this period, but the result was another round lost.
The fifth round started and it was 42 seconds before Diaz attempted a punch. In the first two minutes he made only a handful of attempts to strike. That kind of offense is not going to win any fight, especially one in which you are already behind. But after the fight Diaz clearly thought he did enough to win on points. As the fight neared the end, Diaz was bloodied. When the bell sounded to end the fifth round Silva jumped the cage to give his friend Jon Jones a hug at ringside.
When the decision was announced, Anderson Silva fell to the canvas and sobbed. The fighter was overcome with the emotion of battling back from an injury that could have ended his career. The greatest fighter to ever live, according to Joe Rogan, was once again a winner inside the octagon. Still think these millionaire athletes don’t care? Nick Diaz was pissed at the decision, but showed some real class as he helped pull Silva up from the canvas to get his hand raised properly.
This main event was not what I thought it could be. I wanted a finish just like all of us do with UFC fights. More action would have been nice, but each guy had his own game plan and stuck with it. Diaz’s didn’t work at all, while the Spider picked his man apart the entire fight. It wasn’t a battle for the ages, but a win is a win and Silva was overjoyed to get one.