If you’re like me, you may or may not have peed your pants just a little, when the UFC announced Anderson Silva would be returning against the one and only Nick Diaz. It is the perfect matchup! Both fighters took off 2014, but for two completely different reasons. Diaz was in a half-way retirement phase and would only come back for a fight that “made sense”. Silva on the other hand, is coming off of a gruesome broken leg, suffered in his loss to Chris Weidman; it was Silva’s second loss in as many fights. With the UFC wanting to start 2015 off with a bang, this fight is perfect to “move the needle” and get even the most casual MMA fan excited for some face punching.
I dissected the main card for Saturday night, and made a few phone calls to my people working on “the inside”. Here’s my picks for UFC 183.
-125 Jordan Mein (29-9) vs +105 Thiago Alves (25-9):
Jordan Mein is coming off of two wins, with his last one coming by way of TKO over Mike Pyle. He is 3-1 since joining the UFC, only losing to the tough Matt Brown in April of 2013, and has some serious power in his hands just like his opponent. Alves has a similar record to Mein, and has finished a lot of them by KO/TKO as well. Although Mein may have a few more professional fights, Alves has been a UFC fighter since 2005, this will be his 19th UFC fight. For this fight though, the UFC experience will not matter. Alves will not be able to outstrike Mein on his feet. Mein’s speed and cardio will get him the win Saturday. I have Mein winning by decision over Alves.
-400 Thales Leites (29-4) vs +330 Tim Boetsch (18-7):
Back in 2009, Thales Leites fought then middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, for the title. He didn’t have that good of a showing, and not too long after that, he was released by the UFC. Now he’s back, and he’s on a 4 fight winning streak since stepping back into the octagon. Although Leites is mostly know for his BJJ, he did KO his last opponent, Francis Carmont, last August. Boetsch on the other hand, has been hit or miss lately. After a couple of “boring” fights, Boetsch beat Brad Tavares back in August by TKO. Boetsch is now ready to establish himself as a top 10 middleweight fighter. This won’t happen on Saturday though, that guy is getting tapped out. Leites isn’t a 4-1 favorite for nothing, he gets the Submission of The Night with whatever he catches Boetsch with.
+150 Joe Lauzon (24-10) vs -175 Al Iaquinta (10-3-1):
Joe Lauzon has always been one of my favorite fighters. Never afraid of a fight, and always puts on a great show for the fans. He has beat his last 2 opponents Mac Danzig and Michael Chiesa, and will be a good matchup for the Serra-Longo fighter, Al Iaquinta. Iaquinta himself is coming off of 2 wins as well, defeating both Rodrigo Damm and Ross Pearson by TKO. Iaquinta is definitely a fighter that has raised his stock lately, while some say Lauzon has lowered his. I hate to say this is one of those fights where one fighter is on the rise, and the other is on the declining end of their career, but it is. Although I’m still a huge fan of Lauzon, I don’t see him beating Iaquinta. Lauzon will keep it somewhat close, but Iaquinta will win this one by decision.
+110 #3 Tyron Woodley (14-3) vs -130 #7 Kelvin Gastelum (11-0):
Not too long ago, Woodley was right there ready for his chance at the welterweight title. But after an immediate rematch between Hendricks and Lawler, the UFC decided he needed to beat Rory MacDonald if he wanted his shot. It didn’t work out as planned, and now he’s trying to work his way back to title contention. Gastelum on the other hand, is right where Woodley was, and is looking to keep his record blemish free in hopes of his chance at the belt. Although Woodley has shown his power and speed in the past, I think Gastelum will be able to pull this one away on Saturday. In the past, Gastelum has had trouble making weight, but I feel will have a good weight cut this time and will be able to defeat Woodley by decision. There’s always the chance of Woodley landing a big shot to finish the fight, but I feel like Gastelum has really hit his stride.
-405 #1 Anderson Silva (33-6) vs +335 Nick Diaz (27-9-1):
Both fighters took 2014 off, and are now set to make their returns to the octagon. Diaz wanted a “big” fight and Silva wanted a “fun” one, this will be the biggest/funnest fight your eyeballs have seen. There is a lot of mutual respect between these two fighter, which is why you haven’t heard Nick running his mouth like he usually does. I honestly think going into this fight, Diaz may be a little scared homie. Come fight time, all of that will change, but he knows what he’s getting into. He stands to make a good chunk of cash, and fight one of the best to ever do it. I think Silva will throw a few kicks to start, to let everyone know his leg “is normal”, but I predict this one will turn into the boxing match both men have been wanting. Although Diaz has fought at 185lbs before, it wasn’t against Silva. He will have trouble being the smaller man with the shorter reach. Silva will pick up where he left off before the broken leg. He wins this one by TKO in the third round.
Get out your checkbooks people! There’s money to be made out there!