Photo Credit: UFC
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has hit it out of the park so far in 2015, with its first two major cards of the year living up to the hype of their main events. Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones dominated Daniel Cormier to prove he is the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world at UFC 182, and at the UFC’s live card in Boston, Mass., in January, Conor McGregor secured a featherweight title shot against José Aldo and wasted no time getting in his next opponent’s face.
Which brings us to UFC 183 tonight, and a main event that is considered a dream matchup by many. Anderson Silva returns to the Octagon after suffering a gruesome leg injury in his last fight against UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman in 2013. Nick Diaz also makes his return to the UFC after losing his last fight against former welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre in 2013.
Tonight’s card isn’t without its other storylines though. A pair of significant undercard fights are taking place under some controversy, as flyweight John Lineker came in overweight for his fight against Ian McCall, which is expected to determine the next no. 1 contender to the flyweight title. In the co-main event, Kelvin Gastelum came in 9 pounds overweight for his fight against Tyron Woodley, which means 30 percent of Gastelum’s fight purse actually goes to Woodley. Talk about insult to injury.
Of course, there is always the wild card with Diaz too. He plays by his own rules, having no-showed the open workouts earlier this week. Will he actually show up to the cage for tonight’s main event? It remains to be seen, though most everyone thinks he will.
So, having said all that, who do I think wins tonight?
Miesha “Cupcake” Tate (15-5) vs. Sara McMann (8-1) (Women’s bantamweight – 135 lbs.)
This is actually the main event of the preliminary card on Fox Sports 1. Tate requested to compete on this portion of the card instead of the pay-per-view card, taking a page from Urijah Faber’s playbook. Tate is also eager for a third fight with Ronda Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title. Both of these women suffered Rousey’s wrath, particularly McMann, who was demolished by Rousey in about a minute last year.
McMann is a pure wrestler with very little else to her repertoire, whereas Tate built on her established wrestling skills to become an effective striker. I think she will stuff McMann’s attempts to take this fight to the mat and use her vastly superior striking skills to keep McMann befuddled en route to a dominant victory.
Winner: Tate by unanimous decision
Jordan “Young Gun” Mein (29-9) vs. Thiago “Pitbull” Alves (25-9) (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)
Alves has alternated wins and losses in his last six fights, while Mein rides a two-fight win streak. Alves is always dangerous with his Muay Thai and striking, while Mein landed a first-round TKO victory in his last fight. This should be an exciting stand-up battle with neither guy willing to give an inch. I think Alves is the more dangerous fighter here, and will land one good shot to knock Mein silly.
Winner: Alves by second round TKO
Thales Leites (24-4) vs. Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch (18-7) (Middleweight – 185 lbs.)
Leites comes into this fight on a roll, having won his last seven fights, with the last two coming by way of TKO. Boetsch has alternated wins and losses in his last four fights, including a TKO victory in his last fight against Brad Tavares.
Boetsch is a slow, plodding bruiser best known for derailing the Hector Lombard hype train when he first made his UFC debut. Leites is a crafty, dangerous fighter who can finish you with his hands or by submission. I think Leites will avoid Boetsch’s power and wait for Boetsch to make a mistake, where Leits will capitalize.
Winner: Leites by third round submission
Joe Lauzon (24-10) vs. Al “Raging” Iaquinta (10-3-1) (Lightweight – 155 lbs.)
You know what you’re getting with a Joe Lauzon fight. You’re going to see an exciting, action packed bout that will most likely end with him locking in a slick submission or, in the case of his fight against Jim Miller, suffering a gnarly cut that will guarantee a blood battle.
Iaquinta has been on a roll since his time on The Ultimate Fighter Live, having only lost once in his last six fights. A win against Lauzon would be a real feather in his cap and might propel him into title contendership discussion. But Lauzon is one of the best submission specialists in the UFC, and I think the crafty veteran has another submission up his sleeve.
Winner: Lauzon by second round submission
Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (14-3) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (11-0) (Welterweight – 170 lbs.)
As mentioned above, Gastelum weighed in 9 pounds over for this fight and will forfeit 30 percent of his purse directly to Woodley. It was reported that Gastelum spent time in the hospital leading up to this fight, which contributed to him coming in overweight.
Woodley will be angry in this fight, and rightly so. It’s not fair that his opponent will have a weight advantage due to his own failure to do what he was supposed to do. Give Woodley credit for wanting to keep fighting when it would have been perfectly understandable to postpone it.
Woodley will channel his rage into a blitzkrieg of offense at Gastelum, and the lethargic and probably still-injured Gastelum will have no response.
Winner: Woodley by second round TKO
Anderson “The Spider” Silva (33-6) vs. Nick Diaz (27-9-1) (Middleweight – 185 lbs.)
This is one of the several main events that have fight fans buzzing in 2015. Many didn’t think Silva would ever walk again after his leg injury against Weidman, let alone come back to the UFC to fight. The matchup style of Diaz wanting to push the pace, get in his opponent’s face and sucker him into trading blows against Silva’s unrivaled elusiveness will be interesting to watch.
Diaz said he wouldn’t trash talk Silva during this fight out of respect. But if Silva keeps bobbing and weaving and dodging Diaz’s punches, we’ll see how long Diaz commits to that. I think we’ll see vintage Silva in this fight, making Diaz look silly in some spots while landing well-timed strikes that will confuse and frustrate Diaz, which will allow Silva to land even more.
Diaz is too tough to finish, but this fight will show that Silva still has it and is the vastly superior fighter.
Winner: Silva by unanimous decision
Chris Huntemann writes about mixed martial arts in the state of Maryland. He also contributes his thoughts to our site on the UFC, Bellator, and World Series of Fighting. Check out his blog, or follow him on Twitter: @mmamaryland.