They are back, are they ready? The UFC and fans alike really hope so just days away from UFC 183 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Anderson Silva needs this win to get back to the middleweight title and Chris Weidman, Nick Diaz needs this just to stay relevant in the UFC. The “Stockton Badboy” moniker can only sell so much when Diaz has lost two in a row, and has not fought in almost two years. In the co main event, a rising star is hoping to catch a contender off guard, and slip in to take his spot among the best in the division. Gastelum gets his first shot to prove he is for real, against the number three ranked Tyron Woodley. Things do not get start without the prelims though, which kick off on Fight Pass at 6:30 pm EST, switch over to FOX Sports 1 at 8 pm EST, and making its final stop on pay per view at 10 pm EST. Two legends hoping to hop into contention, check the previews down below for predictions.
#1 Anderson Silva (33-6) vs. Nick Diaz (27-9-1) Middleweight Bout – Two of the biggest and most magnetic stars in the UFC, both Silva and Diaz will put butts in the seats with their names alone, fighting each other on pay per view could create the largest buy rates for the promotion yet. This new year has been highly successful for White, Fertitta, and company; the grass will only get greener with this bout and Ronda Rousey fighting at the end of February. All future endeavors aside, can either of these fighters return to glory they once had? Nick Diaz has been absent from the sport for almost two years, and is stepping up in weight to fight the former pound for pound king of the UFC. Silva himself is coming off quite a layoff after his gruesome leg injury, in which that leg itself, may be the key to beating Diaz. The Diaz brothers rely heavily on their front leg when boxing, which Rafael dos Anjos exploited in his last fight against the younger brother, Nate Diaz. Anderson is the larger, more powerful, and more diverse fighter in this fight; and should be able to put on a show if he looks anything like his former self. He may look a bit rusty, but Silva takes this fight in the later rounds. Anderson Silva via Technical Knockout.
#3 Tyron Woodley (14-3) vs. #7 Kelvin Gastelum (11-0) Welterweight Bout – This is Gastelum’s ticket to contender ship if he wants it, but he is going to have to yank it out of Tyron Woodley’s beaten hands to get it. Woodley has been known to throw in a dud or two when climbing up the welterweight ranks, T Wood is in his prime now though, and has his eyes set on Robbie Lawler. Gastelum has the tools to make a run, but whether his skills match up with someone the caliber of Woodley is yet to be seen. Beating the likes of Ellenberger has become less of a milestone in the division, and before that, he beat Nico Musoke. A name like Tyron Woodley though, would open many eyes. Kelvin Gastelum is getting there, just not at where he needs to be to beat someone like Woodley. Tyron Woodley via Unanimous Decision.
Joe Lauzon (24-10) vs. Al Iaquinta (10-3-1) Lightweight Bout – Both Joe Lauzon and Al Iaquinta have put together respectful win streaks entering into this contest. Lauzon is fresh off back to back victories, as Al Iaquinta is coming off his own pair of wins. Lauzon is one of the scrappiest guys in the division, and known for having a knack at winning performance bonuses. Not to be out done, Iaquinta has won his last two fights via technical knockout, and is on the verge of breaking through the top 15 of the division. The lightweight division is quite a steep one to contend in, it is considered one of the deepest divisions in the UFC. At this point in their careers, Iaquinta is the quicker fighter, and the Ray Longo camp he trains in has been on an incredible roll this last year. Even though he won the fight, Joe Lauzon looked slow against Michael Chiesa, and was somewhat reeling before the doctor stopped the fight. Lauzon is an entertainer for sure, but his better days are in the past. Al Iaquinta via Technical Knockout.
#11 Thales Leites (24-4) vs. #14 Tim Boetsch (18-7) Middleweight Bout – Funny to think that Thales Leites once fought for the middleweight title, lost two in a row and got cut, but is now running through opponents in the middleweight division and back in the UFC. Boetsch has hit this stage of his career where it’s either gatekeeper or bust, to where Leites is vying to once again for another shot at the title. Thales Leites has really evolved his striking into a strength, and is still dangerous then ever when the fight hits the ground. Boetsch boasts the power to always have a puncher’s chance, but this fight is the Brazilian’s to lose. Thales Leites via Submission.
#13 Jordan Mein (29-9) vs. Thiago Alves (25-9) Welterweight Bout – It seems like forever since Thiago “Pitbull” Alves fought inside the octagon, well maybe because it has. The Pitbull has only fought twice since 2012, fighting off numerous injuries to get back into the cage. Mein has the talent to compete with the upper echelon in the division, he just needs to stay consistent and win fights he is supposed to win. It may not seem like it, but with the long lay off and the possible ring rust for Alves, Mein should be able to win this fight. Alves is a tough outing for anyone, Mein is just catching him at the right time. Jordan Mein via Unanimous Decision.
In other notable UFC fights, Sarah McMann and Miesha Tate take over the prelims in what could be a fight with UFC title implications on it. Speaking of UFC title implications, Ian McCall and John Lineker could be also fighting for a possible title fight. The prelims or stock full of talented fighters, which should lead to some highlight reel finishes on the FOX Sports 1 prelims. For the full results of UFC 183, check back into the MMA Spotlight for the coverage.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Guardian Liberty Voice sports writer leading the coverage in MMA