"The Spider" is back. And he'll make his return in what can only be described as a dream matchup.
Anderson Silva, the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time, will have his comeback fight against the extremely popular Nick Diaz at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas. UFC president Dana White made the announcement Tuesday evening on ESPN's SportsCenter, adding that Silva has been cleared to fight.
Silva has not competed since last December when he broke his leg in gruesome fashion in a fight with Chris Weidman at UFC 168. The video of Silva's leg snapping went viral and caused many to believe the Brazilian would never fight again.
But "The Spider" decided very quickly that he would step back into the Octagon and his recovery process has been steady. A matchup with Diaz is something MMA fans have talked about for a long time, but no one thought it would actually happen, especially after Silva's leg injury and Diaz's retirement. The bout will likely be contested at middleweight, UFC officials told FOX Sports.
Diaz, 30, himself has not fought since March 2013, a loss to Georges St-Pierre in a welterweight title fight. Afterward, he considered himself retired and earlier this year said he would only return to the UFC on certain conditions -- he wanted a pay raise, a rematch with St-Pierre or another big fight, like one against Silva. The bad boy from Stockton will get his wish.
Silva (33-6) lost the middleweight title to Weidman by knockout in July 2013 after an historic run atop the division and then the rematch when his leg broke. He owns the streak for the most consecutive wins in the UFC (16) and the most successful title defenses (10). Silva, 39, also has the most finishes in UFC history (14). He held the belt for nearly seven years.
Diaz (26-9, 1 NC) has never won a UFC title, but is the former Strikeforce welterweight champion. He's coming off two losses in a row, like Silva, but before that strung together 11 straight victories. His anti-establishment sensibilities and stand-in-the-pocket fighting style have made him wildly popular with fans. At just 30, Diaz is still in his prime and represents a very dangerous comeback fight for Silva.
This is the only bout announced so far for Jan. 31. The Super Bowl weekend card is traditionally one of the biggest of the year for the UFC.
Silva-Diaz has been a rumored bout for the last few weeks, but now it is official. And it is gigantic.