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Do not sleep on Nick Diaz; Why he will upset Anderson Silva at UFC 183




image via UFC

I know this is supposed to be all about Anderson Silva’s return to the octagon at UFC 183 but Nick Diaz is poised to score the big upset. At first I thought that it was my heart leading my gut because I would like nothing more than for Diaz to win and upset the UFC’s plans. When I started to look at this fight closer there are ways for Diaz to win. In fact the more I looked the more I like the feeling in my gut that is telling me he is going to win.

Yes, I just might be the lunatic you’re looking for

Logically it does not quite add up but that is the beauty of a fight it is not about logic but dealing with the chaos of the actual fight in the moment. When you look at it on paper and by reputation the fight is slanted towards Silva. To the point it looks like one of those fights where the UFC is doing Silva a favor. All he has to do is beat a career welterweight and he gets another chance at regaining the middleweight title.

Seems to make sense for a guy in Silva, who has fought at light heavyweight to beat up a fighter from a lower weight class to potentially take on a fighter who has stopped him twice. If the UFC does not understand why this looks a little strange to some people then maybe this little article will help them out.

Sometimes, Silva is going to Silva

We have seen this with Silva in the past with the light heavyweight fights which were essentially exhibitions for him. The list of heavy hitters he fought in the light heavyweight division is composed of the type of opponents that were literally tailor-made, well at least tailor-picked, for him. They were James Irvin, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Three fighters who bring the fight to their opponents with their charging forward defense be damned style of fighting. That is exactly the type of opponents he needs with his classic counter striking style.

We have seen what happens when his opponents refuse to rush in. We get snooze-fests like his fights with Demian Maia, Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. That seems to be the pattern in Silva’s UFC career. He either gets the TKO/KO win or his opponent would run from him for most of the fight. The two exceptions have been Chael Sonnen and Chris Weidman.

The air of being invincible or Holy Shit I’m fighting Anderson Silva

Sonnen in their first fight took the fight to Silva for the first time in way he could not counter. If not for a mistake at the end of that fight Sonnen would have emerged with the belt, but he did make that mistake. One big advantage Sonnen had going into that fight is that he truly thought he could beat Silva. Something that some think is a given when two people enter a fight but certain fighters take on an almost mythological type of aura about them. It makes them almost unbeatable because their opponents do not believe deep down that they can beat the GOAT in Silva. Sonnen believed he could beat Silva and came so close.

The next fighter who truly believed that he could beat Silva did just that. Twice now and may get a third chance to do it. Weidman knew he had all of the tools to do it. He was patient, kept his head and TKO’d Silva in their first fight. In their next one he perfectly checked one of Silva’s leg kicks that led to Silva’s gruesome leg injury. One of the big factors going into those fights was Weidman’s belief that he would win.

The other elements that lead Weidman to his wins was staying calm and balanced. One of Silva’s classic tactics is his taunting in the octagon to get his opponents pissed off. Some fans have a problem with it and think that he is being disrespectful to his opponents. Those people seem to forget this is a fight not an art exhibition at a museum. They also do not seem to realize that taunting and trash talking have been a part of sports forever and even in the combat ones.

Those fans also do not seem to understand that it is a tactic to get his opponents to fight his fight. When you look at his UFC opponents he has been by far the better striker and most of them did not want to even attempt to strike with him. Only Sonnen and Weidman were able to not fall into his taunting traps.

Weidman did not get upset to the point of rushing in. Instead he used his footwork to be aggressive but not reckless. Weidman took advantage of Silva taunting to hit him in their first fight. The only offense that Silva could generate in that fight was with his kicks to the leg.  They were not enough to slow Weidman down and he got the TKO. In the second fight Weidman was prepared for the leg kicks and came ready to check them. He did not intend to break the leg but he was ready to stop the kicks. The kicks to the leg might again be the only offense that Silva can going in this fight if Diaz does not initiate the exchanges.

Homie, scared don’t be

Diaz is very different from any other opponent Silva has faced but he will share with Weidman the belief entering the fight that he can win the fight. That is one element he will need and the other is his boxing. Diaz will be one of the few opponents that Silva has faced who will want to stand and trade with him.  Sure others have been willing to stand and strike but none that have the boxing of Diaz. He has some of the best in MMA and certainly the best the Silva has faced in the UFC.

Now, when it comes to taunting an opponent Nick Diaz is a Jedi master of it. He is able to get inside even the most veteran of opponents and his trash talk does stop in the pre-fight. You see him talking constantly during his fights. There is very little chance that Silva will get Diaz to charge in recklessly.

They both really like to taunt

There is the possibility that there are moments in this fight that look like the walk-off from Zoolander, with the both of them standing across from each other with their chins out and arms spread in the classic “come at me bro” pose. That would be the case if Diaz was a pure counter-striker like Silva. Diaz likes to counter but he can lead though he tends to come straight forward. He does this in part because of his iron-chin. This allows him to take an opponent’s big shot and keep coming. That will be tested in this fight as Silva has some of the most accurate strikes in MMA. He uses his accuracy combined with an often off-balance opponent or using their momentum against them as they rush in. This usually results in a big highlight reel KO.

Jazz and fighting; arts of the improvisers

There are plenty of dangers for Diaz in this fight. Silva is one of the greatest fighters in the history of the UFC. He is also like one of the jazz greats similar to a Miles Davis type. In many ways an enigma but immensely talented artist who thrived on doing what they do best.

Miles changed music and was responsible for the Cool style of jazz. A style that thrived around less notes instead of more but played with a purity and intensity that pierced inside of you. Silva fights in a similar style using minimal accurate pinpoint strikes to cause his artistic destruction of his opponents.

While Diaz compares favorably to another innovator of jazz and that is John Coltrane. Early in his career Coltrane played with Davis before going off to lead his own group. Davis was concerned with less and Coltrane was looking to put in more through his use of modal style of jazz. At its basic level modals were used instead of chords to lay a background for the soloist. In an essence a complicated return to melody. It gave the artist more room to explore in new interesting ways.

Diaz in some ways uses his boxing to create his music in the octagon. For him the boxing is like Coltrane’s return to melody. A return to the past but he uses it in his own unique and interesting manner. When he is flowing his artistry as a striker is breathtaking beautiful with all of high level techniques he executes.

One of those is his ability to disrupt his opponents rhythm and timing by varying the pace and power of his own strikes. He will do it within combinations and with his overall strikes throughout the fight. It seems like he never throws more than two punches at the same speed. Diaz also does this through his use of levels by working the body better than most MMA fighters. Not only does the bodywork of Diaz help keep his opponents off-balance, but it also helps wear them down.

Pace and space two of the keys 

Diaz also has some of the best cardio in the sport. His is better than Silva’s and look for Diaz use it to push the pace. That along with Diaz’ body strikes could slow Silva down as the fight goes on.

The two main obvious dangers to Diaz are avoiding getting into a clinch with Silva. This is where Silva’s size and Muay Thai background would give him a big advantage. From that position he has shown devastatingly deadly knees.

The other area that Diaz could be vulnerable to at times in this fight is kicks to the leg. It is something that Silva used effectively in the first Weidman fight but after the injury it is hard to say how eager he will to throw them in this fight.

Wrestling? Wrestling? We don’t need no stinking wrestling

The kryptonite for both fighters in the past has been wrestlers, especially ones with good jiu-jitsu defense. We saw Silva struggle with Sonnen in their first fight and of course Weidman. Diaz most recently lost to Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit. St-Pierre used his wrestling to thwart Diaz while Condit utilized his movement to stick and move.

Those are not the issues that Diaz has to concern himself in this fight. Silva does not use his movement the way that Condit did in his win over Diaz, and neither fighter will have to worry too much about the takedown. This fight should take place in standup area.

For Diaz to win it looks like living in the mid-range will be his sweet-spot. If he gets too close to Silva then he has to worry about the clinch. At distance the leg kicks could be a threat as will be Silva’s jab. I like Diaz to stay inside of Silva’s jab and work the body. He will also push the pace and try to wear Silva down.

Father time gets everyone in the end

There is another reason I think Diaz has a shot and that is Silva’s age and fighting style. There are several similarities to the fighting styles of Silva and boxer Roy Jones Jr. Besides both being one of the best fighters of their time they also did it with an unorthodox style. Jones  would often had his hands down  by his sides and would taunt his opponents during his fights to goad them into coming into him.

He had great success with this style. It led to Jones Jr. owning a 30-1 record entering his first rematch with Antonio Tarver. The lone loss was a DQ against a fighter he was dominating. One of his toughest fights had been the first fight with Tarver and Jones  took a MD. Tarver won the rematch via a TKO and it started a downward slide to Jones’ career. He went 10-7 during the last 17 fights of his career including a 3-4 stretch that included to losses to Tarver.

It was like Jones got old overnight. It is the problem with that style which has many advantages for those that have the skills but it does not age well. Once the reflexes slow up a tick suddenly they are human.

We have seen Silva use this same tactics and style during his career. One where he usually has his hands done by his sides during his fights. The first time it hurt him was in the first fight with Weidman. It could be that he is slowing down just a tick and is now human or it could be that Weidman is just a bad matchup for him. That next generation fighter who has been training to beat Silva his whole career.

Speed kills

This fight with Diaz will tell us a lot about where his with his speed. It is also the area where he already could be at a disadvantage to Diaz. The smaller fighter is usually the faster fighter and if Diaz has a significant advantage in the speed area and can live in the mid-range area he will win this fight.

I could be crazy and it just could be my heart leading my gut, but I have a strong feeling Diaz is about to upset the whole MMA world with a stunning performance against Silva. It also seems about the right time for an upset like this and think about how much fun it will be to watch the UFC and Dana try to deal with a Nick Diaz who just beat Anderson Silva.

Diaz vs Lawler II coming to PPV this summer

Actually, it really would not upset them at all because if Diaz does win we all know that his next fight will be a rematch with Robbie Lawler. The first fight between them was a classic and a must view on Fight Pass. A rematch between Lawler and Diaz would have the fans in a frenzy of anticipation.

An avid lifetime fight fan who loves to write about it. So kick back, get comfortable and let's have some fun! "Wants me to tell him something pretty." Al Sweargen "Going wrong is not the end of fucking things, Johnny. Fuck no! I have comeback from plenty of shit that looked like it was going wrong." Dan Dority "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Bill Munny



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