Both Anderson Silva (33-6-0) and Nick Diaz (27-9-1) return to the octagon at UFC 183 after long layoffs. Anderson “The Spider” Silva is a future hall of fame fighter with a list of accomplishments that trumps any need for introduction. Unfortunately, neither do his last two fights against Chris Weidman, who took the title by KO and rematch by TKO (injury). Nick Diaz too has taken two previous losses in the octagon, suffering a unanimous decision losses to Carlos Condit and Georges St. Pierre in March of 2013. How will the former UFC middleweight champion and former Strikeforce welterweight champion perform after so long away from the cage?
“For me, this is my first fight in UFC,” he says to ufc.com.
The former longtime middleweight champion is looking to be reborn in the middleweight ranks. As far as Silva’s recovery is concerned, the physical and mental recuperation from his leg injury is fully complete:
“I feel no pain at all,” he said in a recent interview with the Brazilian TV news program Fantastico. “The hardest part is self-confidence, to kick again as I used to.”
“My mind now is good,” he said last week in Torrance, California, where his Muay Thai College is headquartered. “My leg is good.”
In interviews leading up to UFC 183, Anderson did indeed confirm that his goal for returning to the octagon was to retrieve the title he had held for so long at middleweight.
“For my career, it’s the best,” he said. “Anderson is back and gets the belt back. Perfect.”
Confirmed by Dana White earlier in the month, if Anderson is successful in his fight against Nick Diaz, he will earn the opportunity to reclaim the title.
To say the least, Nick Diaz is a man of mixed reputation in the mixed martial arts world. He is unquestionably an extraordinary athlete, talented boxer and jiu-jitsu expert under Cesar Gracie. He is also infamous for talking trash to opponents in the ring and having a few run ins with the law. On his reputation, he states:
“I’d rather not be portrayed as an evil villain,” Diaz said. “But if people want to make me out to be that, and it sells tickets, that’s fine. But I do hope people understand that this is just what sells, and not what’s really me. I’m just a mixed-martial artist from Stockton, California. And I’m still here.”
Uncharacteristically, Diaz has not exhibited intimidating behavior typical of his usual pre-fight self. On the months leading up to the fight, he states:
“You know, I’ve never been the first person to step out of line, start playing games or misunderstand something,” he said. “Right now, my opponent is not playing games with me, and I’m not playing games with him. But until they say, ‘Go,’ in the cage, you never know where it will go from there.”
So how did Nick Diaz make use of the time off? It appears that more than anything, taking time for a mental break was put to good use,
“I just did the kind of regular stuff that normal people do,” Diaz said. “But it was the kind of stuff that I could never do. I was in the gym, every day, for something like 15 straight years. I always had a fight coming in three or four months.”
Stylistically, he looks forward to facing such an esteemed opponent in Anderson Silva,
“We’re built a lot alike, but he has the size and reach,” Diaz explained. “He has more of an advantage with kickboxing. I have more of an advantage with boxing. We’re both black belts in Jiu-Jitsu. So I’m not in the dark about what I’m getting myself into and what’s at stake. I know I can have a really good night, and that I might have a really bad night.”
Catch UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz takes place live on Pay-Per-View on Saturday January 31st at 10PM/7PM ETPT.