Tuesday, 3 February 2015

TV Review: UFC 183 Silva vs Diaz

It's time to step into the Octagon for our latest review to see how Anderson Silva fared in his comeback fight against Nick Diaz at UFC 183, shown in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The broadcast began in the welterweight division as Jordan Mein faced Thiago Alves.

This was another great example of how a fight can turn in an instant. Mein had a great first round. His striking looked top notch throughout as he had Alves in no end of trouble, and at one point towards the end it looked like he was going to get the stoppage, but Alves managed to weather that particular storm to make it to the end of the round.

It seemed to everyone that we were going to get more of the same in the second, but after Mein engaged in a little showboating Alves connected with a kick to the bread basket that doubled Mein over. Alves immediately went in for the kill, and it wasn't long before the referee was stepping in to give Alves the TKO win.

It was up to middleweight for the next fight as Thales Leites took on Tim Boetsch.

This proved to be a very good back and forth encounter. They decided to dispense with the feeling out period, and that gave us some great exchanges in which both fighters rocked the other. Leites had some success early on, but Boetsch got the better of the Brazilian towards the end of the first when he sent him down to the mat, and although the Barbarian managed to get in a few ground and pound shots Leites managed to shut him down until the horn sounded.

There was more of the same in the second round, but when Boetsch connected with another combination that sent Leites crashing it looked like the beginning of the end. Leites fought back immediately though, scoring with the takedown that his corner had asked for between rounds, and once he got his man on his back he quickly worked his way into position so he could apply an arm triangle. It looked like the end for Boetsch, but to the surprise of just about everyone he managed to escape from Leites' grip, only for the Brazilian to change sides so he could apply the arm triangle again. Boetsch held out for as long as he could, but when the referee saw that he'd passed out the referee stepped in to give Leites submission win.

Lightweight action followed as Joe Lauzon went up against Al Iaquinta.

The quota of enjoyable fights increased again with this encounter. The first round saw both guys putting in good performances. Lauzon did a good job early on of controlling the centre field, and even though Iaquinta managed to get off some good combinations he looked somewhat sloppy at times. Lauzon, on the other hand, got in some good blows of his own, but as the round went on Iaquinta's radar seemed to be working a little better.

The action followed a similar pattern in the second, with Lauzon enjoying some good early moments and Iaquinta working his way back in, and when Iaquinta connected with a big right to the head it was the beginning of the end for Lauzon. Iaquinta was all over him like a cheap suit, and when Lauzon went down to the mat and Iaquinta followed him down with a barrage of hammer fists it looked all over, and even though Lauzon managed to get back to his feet Iaquinta continued with his barrage as Lauzon staggered around the cage, and it was only a matter of time before the referee stepped in to give Iaquinta the TKO win.

The co-main event featured what was originally meant to be a welterweight fight but became a catchweight encounter between Tyron Woodley and Kelvin Gastelum, who was ten pounds over the weight limit.

The first fight of the main show that went the distance showed that sometimes we fight fans aren't lucky enough to get great fights throughout a show. The action here was okay, but it won't be nominated for any fight of the year awards either.

Woodley began the fight with a high right kick, but it wasn't a sign of things to come. Gastelum quickly took control of the centre, the only problem was though that they just weren't connecting that often, which didn't exactly sit too well with the fans in attendance.

Things got a little better in the second round, especially from Woodley. He was having a great deal of success with his powerful right and had Gastelum on the back foot on more than one occasion. But Woodley's problem was that he was delivering single blows instead of combinations, and if he'd got off a few decent combinations the stoppage was probably his for the taking.

It was pretty much the same in the third round, and when the fight ended they were greeted with a resounding chorus of boos. As for the judges they couldn't agree as they gave Woodley the split decision.

The main event featured middleweight action as Anderson Silva took on Nick Diaz.

This definitely had that big fight feel about it, the former champion returning to action after an horrific injury, against the brash, cocky and somewhat enigmatic two-time welterweight king, and while it lacked that flash ending it certainly delivered for the most part.

Diaz began his night's work with a little showboating as he attempted to get inside Silva's head. At one point he laid on the ground before inviting Silva to clinch with him against the cage. The Brazilian was having none of it though, and when the action finally began in earnest both fighters got in their fair share of good shots.

But the question that everybody was asking was could Silva use his left leg the way he did before the injury. He soon answered that question when he connected with a few kicks. It was as if he was telling the world that nothing was wrong.

As the fight went on Silva really seemed to get into his game, and as he continued to connect with his combinations Diaz's face began to show the scars of battle. Diaz was still in with a chance, but by the time the third and fourth rounds came he looked a step behind the former middleweight king.

When the fifth rolled around it was obvious that Diaz needed a finish to get the win. Instead he decided to showboat a little again. It really didn't matter to Silva though, he continued with the good work he'd begun a few rounds before, and by the time the fight ended the cut he'd opened above Diaz's eye looked a lot worse.

So after five rounds of mainly striking action it went down to the judges. No real surprises here as Silva took the unanimous decision.

In conclusion - so how did the show featuring the return of a legend fare then?

UFC 183 pretty much delivered for the most part. The majority of the fights I saw were very enjoyable, with only the Woodley/Gastelum fight disappointing. There were some very good performances here, especially from the likes of Thales Leites and Thiago Alves, but perhaps the most dramatic moment of the night came with Anderson Silva after he'd won, when he dropped to the canvas and broke down in tears when he'd realised what he'd done. There was also a nice touch of class from Nick Diaz when he helped Silva back to his feet and hugged him, congratulating him on his win.

As for my fight of the night no-prize the official award went to the Leites/Boetsch encounter, but I'm going to go for a different angle and give it to Silva/Diaz, not just for the action but for the emotion both fighters displayed after the fight.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give UFC 183 the thumbs up.