The Return of "The Spider" Anderson Silva
Anderson Silva is a household name in the MMA world. He was regarded as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world as he dismantled competition in the Middleweight Division as the Champion with a venture to take on a Light Heavyweight competitor here and there. Silva made his debut in the UFC at UFC Fight Night 5 in 2006 against Chris Leben. From there Silva would amass a 16 fight win streak in the UFC which included 10 Middleweight Title defenses and 3 wins at Light Heavyweight.
Then came his first defeat and loss of the Middleweight Championship to Chris Weidman at UFC 162. Weidman finished Silva by TKO in the first round by punches. Anderson Silva was granted an immediate rematch which took place at UFC 168, Silva suffered a second straight defeat due to a TKO loss where he broke his leg following Weidman checking his low kick. Since then Silva has been rehabilitating and preparing for his return over a year later.
UFC 183: Silva vs Diaz
The Return: UFC 183
After suffering his first two losses in the octagon to Weidman, a severe injury and being as many would deem as "old" as he was at 39 years of age. Speculation began to occur as many wondered if this would be the retirement on The Spider. Silva exclaimed throughout recovery that he would see out his recently signed 8-Fight deal with the UFC.
On "Countdown to UFC 183" Silva says that "there was no doubt in his mind he would return". He began rehab immediately following his emergency surgery on his broken leg. Silva's family wished for his retirement but Anderson explains that "if you take this from me, you're taking my life away." So Anderson continued his extensive rehab and was walking only 3 weeks after his surgery. It was only a couple months later too that he would begin training and even kick with his broken leg. Silva also explained how he kept the fans updated throughout his recovery to show "he was not done" and a return to the octagon was only a matter of time.
So with a return looming, many wondered what was next? Would Silva return in a high-profile fight after a severe injury to put himself right back in the title mix? Who would be the best return fight at 185 for Silva, a lower-ranked fight like Michael Bisping or Cung Le to ease him back in or would he return to a fight a contender like Mousasi, Rockhold, or a rematch with Vitor who's own future fights were under it's own conflict with the recent banning of TRT and his original match-up with Weidman being pulled.
Then on July 30, 2014, it was announced by UFC president Dana White on ESPN SportsCenter that Silva will finally return to the UFC to fight at UFC 183, also it was announced Nick Diaz would also return to the octagon to be his opponent and move up to Middleweight from Welterweight to take on Anderson Silva. The return of who many proclaim to be the GOAT and legend would finally return an action only just over a year out from his unfortunate and intense injury.
The Opponent: Nick Diaz
Nick Diaz is a polarizing figure in MMA. With his brash personality and also one to trash-talk and let his feelings know, splits the viewers in either enjoying or disliking the fighter. Despite this one thing that is generally accepted is that Nick Diaz always brings a fight and not one to shy away from a brawl.
Nick Diaz was a top contender and mainstay in the Welterweight Division for years, once beating BJ Penn in a one-sided fight and notching wins against fighters in the past such as the now Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler. Also Nick Diaz is one for high profile fights, being he accepted taken on Anderson Silva who is regarded as a top pound for pound fighter and at a weightclass above and also taken on former welterweight title holder and another top pound for pound fighter during his career in George St. Pierre who was Diaz's last fight.
Diaz then left the sport without a set or certain return. Diaz being the polarizing figure he was and brash personality didn't cope well with higher-ups of the UFC like Dana White, including missing out on press events and things of similar matter. Diaz always expressed his distaste with these duties and just wanted to fight. Diaz well not afraid to fight anyone as shown by just looking at the list of fighters he's fought, though would not just fight anyone, he believed and knew his self-worth, only wanting high-profile fights but not for the money but because he believed he deserved them and could beat any of them. After his loss to Condit, Nick Diaz never even fought again until this title fight with Georges St. Pierre. So a fight with Anderson Silva was definitely the big type of fight to bring him out of his sabbatical from the UFC and fighting.
Usually Diaz does not veer away from trash talk, obscenities in and out of the octagon to his opponents but on "Countdown to UFC 183" he expresses that "there is no need for it" towards Anderson and such. He is purely focused on this fight and of course believes he can win. He's been in there with the best and his game-plan is the same as always and to beat Silva up. As simple as it sounds, Nick Diaz has the technical boxing to back it up and this game-plan has beaten people like BJ Penn, Paul Daley, and Robbie Lawler.
While Nick Diaz is a top contender at Welterweight, this fight may end up just being a showcase for the return of Anderson Silva. Nick Diaz is at a definitive size disadvantage as he is moving up to Middleweight (185lbs/84 kg) from Welterweight (170lbs/77 kg).
Also Diaz's style plays right into Anderson Silva's strengths. Silva is extremely elusive and thrives against strikers who just move forward and on the attack. Silva throws many counters after parrying or dodging the opponents attempt to strike, the best evidence of this is in his Light Heavyweight (205lbs/93kg) fight against former UFC LHW Champion and first winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffin. Anderson weaves and parries nearly all of Forrest's strikes similar to that of Ali or that of a video game and finished him within the first round. Diaz also never really changes or adjusts his style, as evidenced with his fight with Carlos Condit who fought Diaz from the outside and stayed away from a straight-up brawl which favors Diaz. Diaz while being extremely proficient with his technical striking and has accrued TKO/KO finishes, he does not have the extreme one punch power that the likes of Weidman had in his fight with Silva which notched him the win. Silva not just has great striking defense and evasiveness he also was seen as extremely durable as he had not lost in the UFC and never been in any danger of being knocked out or submitted prior to the Weidman fight.
What Diaz has in his favor though is no one knows how Anderson will return, not just from the fact he suffered his first two losses in the UFC but also how his mobility and leg will hold up from the severe injury. Diaz is also extremely resilient and only has one TKO in his career which was only a doctor stoppage due to a bad cut, so Diaz has not been finished by strikes, and his black belt from Cesar Gracie in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu means he has an efficient ground game as well.
My personal prediction for this fight is that Silva will triumph in his long-awaited return to the Octagon, while Diaz is extremely durable and has a great chin, I believe with his style he will constantly be countered and Silva will notch a 3rd round KO/TKO.