Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz collided in a high-profile bout last night (Sat. Jan. 31, 2015) at UFC 183 inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada (full highlights here).
Silva needed this victory. After consecutive losses and a terrible injury, there were plenty of questions surrounding the former champion. "The Spider" aimed to silence them all with a definitive win.
On the other hand, Diaz has long been vocal about his desire for marquee match ups, and the needle mover earned another one here. There's no doubt that Diaz would come to fight, but whether the Stockton-based scrapper could earn the victory was a completely different issue.
The first round was one of the craziest things I've ever seen in combat sports. Immediately, Diaz entered the bout and taunted his opponent. Whether it was dropping his hands, moving around in weird stances, or even laying down in the center of the cage.
Clearly, Diaz was trying to get Silva to lead.
Regardless of the taunts, both men landed hard and often in the first round. Notably, Nick Diaz -- NICK DIAZ -- began throwing some nice low kicks, in the most shocking moment of the year so far. Though Silva likely edged it, it was clearly the closest round of the night.
Silva slowly began to gain the momentum. He fell into Diaz's game much less than in the first, picking his shots on the outside and then punishing Diaz for his attempts to close the distance.
Additionally, Silva showed that he could kick with his injured leg without issue. He also landed a brutal body kick that would bury a fair number of light heavyweights, but Diaz's expression didn't even change. Diaz also landed a fair number of punches, but it was not nearly enough to overcome Silva's own output.
The pace slowed a little bit in the third, as Diaz continually attempted to draw Silva out. Nonetheless, Silva picked his shots and landed clean strikes fairly often. One thing was certain, Silva's vaunted accuracy has not declined in the least.
By the fourth round, Diaz's face was fairly battered, but it was one of the closer rounds of the battle. In his best moments, Diaz landed a seriously hard low kick that Silva circled into as well as an overhand from inside the clinch, which he followed with a series of elbows.
Still, Silva landed plenty of his own hard strikes, including a low kick that buckled Diaz's leg. "The Spider" landed some strong punches as well, and Diaz attempted to counter each one, usually with little success. The round ended with Diaz again taunting Silva, but the Brazilian held his composure.
The final round was a fitting ending to this main event. Diaz -- unperturbed by dozens of punches and kicks -- continued his taunting and pushed forward with occasional combinations. When he did land, Silva immediately answered with harder shots of his own then returned to circling.
In a particularly awesome moment from both men, Silva cracked Diaz with a right hand, who promptly spit the blood from his mouth before taking a step toward "The Spider."
At the end of 25 minutes, Silva clearly earned the unanimous decision, though Diaz was competitive throughout. It was a hugely emotional moment for Silva, who's had a seriously rough time for the last year with his losses and injuries.
Silva's skills do not appear to be on the decline. For the most part, he clearly picked his opponent apart and avoided a huge number of strikes. If he looked bad in any way, it's because Diaz hung tough while Silva fought intelligently and did not get baited into exchanges.
However, there's also no reason to believe things would go differently in a third bout against Weidman, so hopefully the UFC does not go down that path. If Belfort defeats Weidman, then a rematch between the two for the strap would definitely be worth watching.
Alternatively, there's nothing wrong with retiring on a victory.
Honestly, Diaz far exceeded my expectations. He may not have won, but the longtime welterweight stood tall against perhaps the greatest fighter of all time. Plus, he showed improvements in his game, something the Diaz brothers have struggled with for some time.
After that performance, Diaz will remain a draw. The fact that he's on a three-fight losing streak doesn't really matter, as Diaz has drawing power that few can match.
If Diaz keeps fighting, I expect to see him back at welterweight as the main event against a beatable top-10 opponent, someone like Matt Brown or Demian Maia. Simply put, a rematch against Lawler would be a huge match up for the UFC, regardless of whether or not Diaz deserves it.
Gotta move that needle somehow.
At UFC 183, Anderson Silva returned to the win column with a victory over Nick Diaz. Will "The Spider" reclaim his championship strap?
For complete UFC 183 "Silva vs Diaz" results and play-by-play, click HERE.