Crystal Ball Predictions: UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz
Saturday’s UFC 183 is a stacked card full of big names and rising contenders. This week we break down the main card’s three top bouts and let you know our DraftKings picks.
So read on and let us know who you’re picking in the comments section and on Twitter!
Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz
Diaz is one of my all-time favorite fighters, and he is world-class. That said, unless Silva is dramatically different than he was before his horrible leg injury more than a year ago, this ends ugly for Stockton’s son.
We’ll start with size. Diaz has said he feels stronger and healthier at 185 pounds, instead of his usual 170-pound welterweight limit. That makes sense, since he won’t have to drop as much weight before fighting, but there’s still no ignoring the huge size difference between him and "The Spider." For a quick frame of reference, Diaz once fought at lightweight (160 pounds) against former champion Takanori Gomi and won.
Silva, on the other hand, had no problem moving up to light heavyweight to beat Forrest Griffin handily. So it is no exaggeration that in this fight we have a man capable of fighting at lightweight taking on another man who is capable of beating the best at light heavyweight.
Silva will dwarf Diaz, and that is no small advantage. Also, Silva may be as good as or better than Diaz at boxing, one of the smaller fighter’s best skills.
Worse still, Diaz likely will not pose any of the skill problems that Silva ever has struggled with, namely wrestling and the ability to check low kicks. In fact, of any opponent in the UFC, Nick Diaz may be the least likely to take down Silva or check one of his leg kicks.
The Diaz brothers, while possessing some good judo takedowns, simply do not have elite wrestling and never have shown an interest in checking leg kicks. If ever there were a perfect fighter for Silva to test his healing leg against, it is Diaz.
However, it is possible that the 39-year-old Silva is a much different fighter than the last time we saw him. After all, he’s been inactive, and was knocked out in the fight before his injury. There’s always the chance that he will be different physically and/or psychologically.
If Silva’s timing has slipped even a fraction and Diaz starts to hit him with combinations, Silva could be in trouble. It would behoove the former champ to fight conservatively, keep his hands up, look to clinch up with Diaz to make him feel his strength, and do damage with his knees and elbows.
Prediction: Silva via third-round TKO
Tyron Woodley vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Though conventional wisdom is that Gastelum is stepping up in level of competition, Woodley has been humble enough to acknowledge that, stylistically, this will be one of his most challenging fights to date. Gastelum appears to have traits similar to Woodley’s: He’s a strong wrestler with quick and powerful punches.
Woodley may be the better wrestler, however, and so with a game plan that includes mixing up his strikes with takedowns, he could edge the much younger Gastelum. This fight is tough to call, but we believe that whichever man manages to mix in quick lead punches with their power shots will have an advantage in this battle of sluggers.
Woodley claims that his recent training camp refreshed him, and it’s likely he’s added some new tricks at the striking-heavy Roufusport. So, we’re picking the St. Louis fighter to come away with the win.
Prediction: Woodley by decision
Joe Lauzon vs. Al Iaquinta
This lightweight scrap is similar to the welterweight one above in that it pits two similar fighters against one another. Iaquinta, like Lauzon, is a good boxer who fights at a high pace, with solid wrestling.
However, Iaquinta is much younger in his MMA career than "JLau." That could have its advantages if Iaquinta is fresher and less banged up than the older Lauzon.
On the other hand, Lauzon’s experience in the Octagon over the past nine years is invaluable, and he told us that it’s one of the main advantages he’ll have over Iaquinta.
The other is ground ability. Iaquinta has fought and beaten good Jiu Jitsu fighters before, and he trains with one of the best American ground stylists ever in Matt Serra, but in Lauzon he’ll face the hungriest and most successful submission hunter in the history of the UFC’s lightweight division.
If Lauzon can set the pace, land first and cut angles on the feet, he’ll have a good chance at either timing his own takedown or forcing Iaquinta to rush an attempt of his own. In either case, Lauzon stands a good chance at finding a fight-ending submission from there.
Prediction: Lauzon by third-round submission
I like Joe Lauzon. He’s facing a younger, faster fighter once more, but I think he finds a way to win. It’s a toss-up on the feet, but if it hits the ground, Lauzon likely will have an advantage. At a mere $9,200 value, Lauzon fits the bill for a solid underdog pick.
Thales Leites vs. Tim Boetsch
Leites has looked great for the past four-plus years, winning seven straight and rejuvenating his career. In fact, he’s finished his past two UFC opponents.
Boetsch has lost three of his past five fights, and one of those wins was a close one over CB Dollaway in 2013. That said, I just like the way this matchup goes for Boetsch. He should have the power advantage on the feet with striking, as well as the wrestling edge.
Prediction: Boetsch by decision
Boetsch also gets my pick here. I think he can stay out of submission trouble against Leites, and then pound his way to a decision win. The big man has carried his strength to middleweight in recent years, and should be able to decide if the fight goes to the ground or stays on the feet. He’ll likely have an advantage in both areas. Coming in at a value of $8,000, Boetsch instantly becomes my favorite underdog pick of UFC 183.
Jordan Mein vs. Thiago Alves
I’ve got to go with the underdog here, again. Since late 2010, Mein has lost to only the best of the best in Matt Brown and Woodley. He’s also won his past two fights. So the Strikeforce veteran is a favorite for good reason.
That said, Alves still has a huge upside. The former world title challenger is back on the winning track, and this is a perfect opportunity for him to jump back into the mix at welterweight.
Prediction: Alves by decision
I’m still a big believer in Alves. So, I’m picking him to get the win over Mein. Alves still has one more run in him. "The Pitbull" didn’t look spectacular last April in his first fight since 2012, but he did win for the first time since 2011. I’m hoping all his time off in recent years means the Brazilian is healthier than he’s been in a long time. For $400 less than Mein’s $9,800 salary, Alves is an easy choice.
Miesha Tate vs. Sara McMann
This is as good a prelim fight as you’re going to get, ladies and gentlemen. Here, two of the bantamweight’s very best go to battle to determine who will move closer to another title fight.
In the end, we see this fight as two wrestling-based fighters, so we give the advantage to the higher-level wrestler, former Olympian McMann.
Prediction: McMann by decision
Ed Herman vs. Derek Brunson
Herman has looked solid recently, even during tough losses. However, Brunson has been a bit better, other than a tough loss to Yoel Romero at the top of 2014.
Prediction: Brunson by decision
Ian McCall vs. John Lineker
This is yet another matchup between top division contenders on the stacked UFC 183 card. McCall and Lineker are not only both close to world title shots, but they also don’t like one another after a bunch of trash talk.
Tough call, but I like McCall in a barnburner against Lineker, who struggles with his weight at the 125-pound division.
Prediction: McCall by decision
Rafael Natal vs. Tom Watson
Both middleweights rebounded a bit in their most recent fights. Watson always hangs tough, but if Natal comes in shape, his ground advantage should serve him well.
Prediction: Natal by third-round submission
Diego Brandao vs. Jimy Hettes
Both featherweights have had rough runs of late. Brandao should come out with a head of steam, but we think Hettes will have the composure to handle himself.
Prediction: Hettes by third-round submission
Richardson Moreira vs. Ildemar Alcantara
Both men need wins badly, and this could be a close one. However, "Rick Monstro" holds an advantage on the ground, and that area will win the day for him.
Prediction: Moreira by second-round submission
Thiago Santos vs. Andy Enz
Enz has been competitive in his UFC fights but has yet to pick up a win in the promotion. Santos needs a win as well but has shown power at middleweight, so I think he’s capable of doing the same at welterweight.
Prediction: Santos by decision
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