Fight Picks – UFC 183: Silva vs Diaz

ufc183

The MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will, this Saturday night, host UFC 183 – the fourth and final event of what has been a tremendous January for the World’s premier  mixed martial arts promotion.

Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz

Headlining the card will be the highly unusual, but utter intriguing, match-up of MMA legends Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz. Silva is widely considered the greatest MMA fighter to ever live and holds the record for the most UFC title defences during his near seven year reign as middleweight champion. Diaz may not be as decorated as Silva but he is a former Strikeforce champion and one of the biggest fan favourites the sport has ever seen. It seems like any normal match up of legends, but it’s not that simple.

Both men have been out of the cage for over a year. Diaz’ sabbatical was due to his unwillingness to fight after losing to Georges St-Pierre, Silva’s was due to an horrific leg break he suffered when trying to regain the title he had lost to Chris Weidman a few months earlier. Now, with Diaz moving up to middleweight, both men return with many pondering if they both, or either, will be the same fighter as before.

Diaz is a fairly predictable practitioner in that we know he will enter the fight with never-ending cardio and attack with constant flurries of jabs, hooks and straight shots. Silva is wholly less standard. The Brazilian has an unorthodox style which sees him hold his hands low, let his opponent hit him and even give up a favourable position just to lure them in both physically and mentally. He is a solid boxer with hurtful hands and throws every sort of kick with his feet. Wrestling is a strength of neither man while both have extremely active jiu-jitsu games if it was to hit the deck.

There are so many unknowns in this fight about how both men will look that picking a winner comes with an obvious caveat. With that said, I have to pick Silva. Diaz is a dynamo of a boxer who comes forward at all times and that should suit his opponent. Expect Anderson to keep his head moving constantly while throwing shots from the hip off of both hands. Diaz has an iron chin and should survive a fair bit of damage but if Silva is anywhere near his old self, and his chin isn’t completely shot, he should be winning this without too much trouble. The first round should be an unbelievable shoot-out which I don’t think Diaz will get out of.

My Pick – Silva via KO

Tyron Woodley vs. Kelvin Gastelum

The UFC will probably tell you this fight has title implications – but it doesn’t. What is does have though, with MacDonald, Lombard and Hendricks all matched, is the possibility for the winner to skip over a few of the other contenders on the road to a title shot. Woodley is a former Strikeforce title contender who has had a mixed time since strapping on the UFC gloves. The Ferguson native has won four of his six Octagon fights via knock out but lost decisions in the other two to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald. Gastelum, on the other hand, have never lost in his ten fight career to date. Including his win over Uriah Hall in the final of TUF, Gastelum has won half of those fights in the UFC and has taken out veterans like Rick Story and Jake Ellenberger along the way.

Unlike the main event, these two fighters have a pretty similar skill set. Although Woodley probably has the advantage, both are talented offensive wrestlers with a solid base and tremendous takedown defence. In the striking, Gastelum is improving constantly with his technique and will be faster than Woodley who, in turn, is the more powerful. In the past Woodley’s losses have come mostly against people who will stick to a strict, go-forward gameplan to take away his explosive wrestling and striking. Gastelum, as of yet, hasn’t shown an ability to do that. In fact, he has shown a willingness to brawl and throw away the gameplan rather than play to his strength at times. So far he’s won all of those brawls but, against Woodley, that won’t end well. If Gastelum can win this fight it will show his readiness to in the title talk. It’s only a matter of time before Gastelum fights for a title but at this very moment I don’t think he’s ready. I see Woodley landing a big shot early and taking Gastelum’s 0.

My Pick – Woodley via KO

Ian McCall vs. John Lineker

Even though it’s buried in the TV prelims, this fight, which was due to take place late last year until McCall fell ill after weigh-ins, is probably the most important, championship wise, of any on the card. Whoever emerges victorious in this fight on Saturday night will almost certainly be next in line to fight Demetrious Johnson for the UFC flyweight title. McCall, who has fought Johnson to a loss and draw already in the UFC, has taken time to bed into the UFC after being a long-time number 1 ranked flyweight before the division was introduced at the big show. It took the American four fights inside the Octagon to register his first win while the second came immediately after. Lineker similarly started slow in the Octagon, losing his debut to Louis Gaudinot before firing back to winnings ways against Yasuhiro Urushitani and getting knockouts in four of his next five outings after that.

Brazil’s Lineker is appropriately nicknamed “hands of stone”. He is undoubtedly the heaviest puncher at 125 lbs and throws wild, powerful shots with an early stoppage foremost on his mind. McCall is the polar opposite. The American is all about speed striking, movement and avoidance of his opponents most vigorous shots. McCall, some might say, is the antidote to sleeping poison in Lineker’s hands. I only see this fight going one way and that’s Lineker getting frustrated by McCall picking him apart and getting on his bike before the judges give him the decision win.

My Pick – McCall via decision

SHORT PICKS

Joe Lauzon vs. Al Iaquinta Iaquinta wins the striking exchanges, avoids the submission, wins a decision
Thales Leites vs. Tim Boetsch – Long periods of awful kickboxing end in a Leites takedown and submission win.
Jordan Mein vs. Thiago Alves – A close back-and-forth Mein decision win
Miesha Tate vs. Sara McMannMcMann gets numerous takedowns and wins the decision
Ed Herman vs. Derek Brunson Brunson wins every exchange and stops Herman early
Rafael Natal vs. Tom WatsonNatal dominates and submits Kong
Diego Brandão vs. Jimy Hettes Hettes survives the early onslaught to take the decision
Richardson Moreira vs. Ildemar Alcântara Alcântara wins via KO
Thiago Santos vs. Andy EnzSantos wins a close decision

BONUS PICKS

Fight of the night – Iaquinta vs. Lauzon

Performance of the night – Natal and Anderson Silva

BET OF THE WEEK

This week I’m taking a treble-your-money three way of Anderson Silva, Ian McCall and Sara McMann

START TIMES (GMT)

Early Prelims – 11.30pm on UFC Fight Pass

Prelims – 1am on BT Sport 1

Main card – 3am on BT Sport 1

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma