Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to the pay-per-view (PPV) market last evening (Sat., Jan. 31, 2015), putting on an absolutely outstanding event that will not soon be forgotten. UFC 183: "Silva vs. Diaz" was highlighted by strange but exciting fights, violent finishes, and an incredible return from "The Spider."
In the main event, Anderson Silva returned to the Octagon for the first time in nearly 14 months, defeating fellow returning fan-favorite Nick Diaz via unanimous decision in wildly entertaining bout (highlights). After looking hesitant early, "The Spider" turned it on in the latter half of the fight, showing off the flashes of brilliance we came to expect from the former champion long ago.
In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley outpointed Kelvin Gastelum in a very close battle. Although Gastelum was the one who had a tough weight cut, the formerly undefeated prospect was the fresher fighter later on in the bout. Ultimately, the fight could have gone either way, but "The Chosen One" was given the nod (highlights).
With that quick recap of the night's marquee bouts, here are your biggest winners, as well as the runners-up from "Sin City."
Biggest Winner: Anderson Silva
The GOAT returned to the win column for the first time since October 13, 2012.
In a bizarre, but exhilarating main event, Nick Diaz showed off his eccentric -- and oddly entertaining -- style by showboating and egging on Anderson Silva early in the fight.
"The Spider" never fell into Diaz's trap, as he was able to pick apart the former Strikeforce welterweight champion on the feet. Silva's chin held tough, his leg kicks looked sharp, and his speed was as fast as it has ever been.
While Silva's return would have been sweeter if he had finished Diaz, you can't deny the former middleweight champion accomplished a mammoth feat this past Saturday night in Las Vegas. To even step back into the Octagon following a fractured leg is something special; to actually win the fight and look impressive while doing so?
If we never see Silva step into the cage again, tonight would be a beautiful cap on a pristine career. With his 17th UFC victory in his back pocket, "The Spider" can be satisfied knowing that he will be the one to determine when his career will end.
Runners-up: Al Iaquinta
Al Iaquinta just continues to impress each time he steps into the Octagon. Before our very eyes the Ray Longo/Matt Serra product has grown into a legitimate UFC lightweight title contender.
The runner-up to Michael Chiesa on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 15 season, "Raging" Al has stormed past his former foe in the rankings following three straight (technical) knockout victories over formidable opponents.
Iaquinta beat Joe Lauzon into a bloody pulp on Saturday night, and he looked as good as he ever has inside the cage. Considering Lauzon only loses to the top contenders, you can expect the Long Island native to take a big step up in the rankings -- and competition -- by the time his next bout rolls around.
Miesha Tate looked done in the first minute of her "Prelims" main event bout against Sara McMann (watch it).
"Cupcake" was absolutely rocked by McMann early on in the fight, and it seemed her dreams of rematching Ronda Rousey would be dashed in a violent flurry. As Tate was battered for the next six minutes, a trigger was switched late in the second round when she sunk in a deep guillotine on McMann during a takedown attempt.
As the former Olympian's head turned flush, it seemed Tate was about to pull off a rousing comeback, but the wrestler survived. Revitalized from her near-submission victory late in the second, the former Strikeforce champion absolutely dominated McMann in top control for the majority of the third round.
Tate has caught a lot of flak from fans and pundits alike following her two victories over Liz Carmouche and Rin Nakai, and although she had her rough moments at UFC 183, her majority decision victory over McMann was not only uber impressive, but absolutely huge for her career.
Biggest Loser: Sara McMann
Victory was just moments away for Sara McMann at UFC 183, but Miesha Tate's heart and will to win were too much to overcome.
Heading into the third round, the former Olympian knew she needed a strong five minutes in order to earn the victory on the judges' scorecards. Her plan? Take Tate down and dominate her like she did in the first. Unfortunately for McMann, that game plan cost her the fight as Tate impressively reversed the Olympian's throw, and remained on top for the remainder of the bout.
McMann showed improved striking on Saturday night, but she was simply outworked late by a more formidable fighter. If the former Olympian ever wants to get back in the title picture, she is going to need to reel off a handful of impressive victories in a row.
Runners-up: Kelvin Gastelum
Not many things went Kelvin Gastelum's way this weekend in Las Vegas. Missing weight by nine pounds? Check! Being forced to move up to middleweight? Check! Putting on a mediocre fight that had the MGM crowd booing? Check! Losing a decision? Check!
The formerly undefeated TUF winner felt the sting of the judges for the first time in his career, as he lost via split decision to No. 3-ranked Tyron Woodley. Gastelum looked decent throughout the fight, but did not really put it all together until the third round.
Whether it was the bad weight cut that stunted him, "Mini Cain" did not look like himself at UFC 183. At multiple times in the fight, Gastelum could have hurt the visibly tired Woodley, but his killer instinct was just not there.
With a move up to 185 pounds imminent, it is hard to see where the budding star goes from here.
Ian McCall didn't look bad at UFC 183, but a huge opportunity slipped through his fingers as he essentially lost to a bantamweight.
Because John Lineker missed weight for the fourth time in his career, the Brazilian will be forced to move up to the 135-pound division for his next fight. With "Hands of Stone" taking out a top flyweight contender in "Uncle Creepy" on Saturday night, his victory essentially does nothing but hurt the 125-pound division, which is already thin as could be on challengers.
If McCall had beaten Lineker in Vegas, there is no doubt in my mind he would have rematched Demetrious Johnson for a third time later this year in a title fight. Instead, "Uncle Creepy" lost a very tough bout, and his UFC record has now dropped to 2-3-1.
That's a wrap!
For complete UFC 183 results and coverage of all the night's action click here.
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