After more than a year away due to injury, Anderson Silva will make his highly anticipated return to the Octagon when he faces Nick Diaz at UFC 183 Saturday night, but MMA fans have plenty more to be excited about as well.
In addition to Silva and Diaz locking horns, 11 additional undercard bouts will take place on pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass. Although there will be no titles on the line, every UFC 183 fight will be hugely important in terms of sorting out the contendership picture across multiple divisions.
Ahead of Saturday’s action-packed event, here is a full rundown of predictions for the biggest contests on the UFC 183 slate.
Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz
There is no doubt that Saturday night’s headliner is the middleweight clash between Silva and Diaz. With 59 career wins between them, they are two of the most accomplished fighters in recent memory. With both combatants riding two-fight losing streaks, though, some are questioning if they are on the decline.
Silva is 39 years of age and is coming off of a broken leg suffered against Chris Weidman. Nobody is certain how well he will rebound, but he is so confident that he is healed that he no longer desires to discuss the injury, according to Damon Martin of FoxSports.com.
“So, this is part of my life I won’t talk to any more because my leg’s good now,” Silva said. “I train hard now and everything is newer. I don’t talk any more on this because this is the past. Sorry.”
As for Diaz, he is only 31, but consecutive defeats at the hands of Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre have left him in flux. In addition to that, his erratic behavior leading up to Saturday’s fight could be a sign that he isn’t 100 percent up for the fight from a mental standpoint.
In addition to initially missing his flight to Las Vegas, Diaz decided against taking part in open workouts, per UFC on Twitter:
His behavior has been so flaky, in fact, that fellow UFC middleweight Tim Kennedy somewhat jokingly suggested that he would step up if Diaz doesn’t show up for the fight:
That shouldn’t be an issue since Diaz has been accounted for, but there is reason to wonder about his mental preparation for the fight.
Both fighters have question marks that they must overcome, and that is part of what makes this bout so intriguing. Picking a winner is extremely difficult, but there is something to be said about The Spider’s desire to bounce back from what could have been a career-ending injury.
Silva and Diaz will empty the tank and push each other to the limit; however, the Brazilian veteran will emerge victorious by decision in the end.
Tyron Woodley vs. Kelvin Gastelum
While Silva and Diaz will main event the UFC 183 card, a catchweight contest between Tyron Woodley and Kelvin Gastelum has a chance to steal the show.
The 23-year-old Gastelum is a perfect 10-0, but there is no question that Woodley represents his toughest competition to date. The 32-year-old T-Wood boasts a 14-3 record, with victories over big-name fighters such as Josh Koscheck and Condit.
Some extra intrigue has been added to the tilt as well since Gastelum didn’t make weight. In fact, he wasn’t even close, as he weighed in an incredible nine pounds over the agreed-upon limit, according to Mike Bohn of USA Today:
The bout will proceed as a catchweight fight, but it can be argued that Gastelum has a big advantage in terms of size and power. That may be true, but Woodley should have the edge in terms of quickness, especially with Gastelum ailing.
Per Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com, Gastelum became ill and was rushed to the hospital due to dehydration Friday:
According to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, everything appeared to be in order concerning Gastelum‘s health after getting checked out:
With that said, the hospitalization had to take its toll on him to some degree. It may very well be something that Woodley can take advantage of, and he likely won’t hesitate to do precisely that.
Gastelum can’t possibly be 100 percent, and Woodley will prey on that by knocking his younger opponent out in the second round.
Miesha Tate vs. Sara McMann
In the preliminary card main event on Fox Sports 1, Miesha Tate and Sara McMann will go head to head in a women’s bantamweight fight as they both look to position themselves for another shot at Ronda Rousey.
Tate is the more experienced mixed martial artist, with a career record of 15-5, but McMann is a fighter on the rise at 8-1. As expected, Tate has been the much more vocal fighter during the lead-up to their meeting.
According to Martin, Tate has used her experience advantage to downplay McMann‘s ability to beat her in multiple ways.
When I see her fight, I see a lot of myself when I was less developed. Now I’m a little bit more well rounded, a little more seasoned to take a punch, to give a punch, I’m comfortable in the striking game now. I have a pretty well versed ground game.
It’s interesting when I watch some of her footage and tapes and I’m like “I remember when I used to not be so comfortable on the feet.” When somebody would hit me, I would be like “I have to wrestle, I better wrestle because I don’t think I can out strike them” and I see that in her a little bit.
While Tate acknowledged McMann‘s wrestling prowess, she may be underestimating it a bit too much. McMann was a freestyle wrestling silver medalist at the 2004 Olympic Games, and her excellence in that area has led her to a great deal of success.
Tate is riding a two-fight winning streak after losing three out of four, so she appears to be back on track. She hasn’t encountered anyone with the grappling excellence of McMann, though, which is why the 34-year-old former Olympian will persevere and win via decision.
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