After a nearly two-year hiatus from competitive mixed martial arts (MMA), Nick Diaz is set to make his highly anticipated return at January 31’s UFC 183, and he’ll be taking on the biggest test of his career in former longtime middleweight champion and arguably the greatest fighter of all-time Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
Silva is also making his return, last competing just over a year ago at UFC 168 in December 2013 when he gruesomely broke his leg in a rematch with current champion Chris Weidman. Despite the many question marks that are surrounding Silva’s return, he is still Diaz’s biggest test to date. Silva is known for his deadly kicks, especially leg kicks, and although he may be weary to throw them coming back from a leg injury, Diaz must be prepared to face them.
To get ready, The Stockton Bad Boy has been training with No. 1-ranked GLORY middleweight Joe Schilling to enhance his kickboxing skills. However, he is not limiting himself there, as it was announced that Schilling will also be bringing in the current GLORY middleweight champion Artem Levin to train with Diaz.
It’s quite ironic that Schilling would bring in Levin to help Diaz, as the two are actually bitter rivals inside the GLORY ring. They previously fought twice at GLORY 10 and GLORY “Last Man Standing” with the score split, each man securing a win against the other. Despite being enemies inside the ring, they seem to be friends outside of it, as Levin was last seen in America supporting Schilling in his MMA debut at Bellator 131.
Over time, Diaz has also become close to Schilling, who took it upon himself to bring in his own rival to prepare the Stockton native. Schilling believes that Levin is similar in style to Silva, something that will help Diaz greatly:
“I want to get Nick the best kickboxers in the world to work with,” Schilling told MMAmania.com. “Levin has a similar height and range and style to Silva’s and I think it will be really good work for Nick. Levin is hard to hit, has that herky-jerky head movement like Silva, and also fights as confident as he does. I asked him to come out and he is going to come out a couple of times between now and Nick’s fight and we will all spar together.”
Levin currently boasts an ultra-impressive 84-6-1 record and is widely considered to be one of the best strikers on the planet. “The Lion,” along with Schilling has the potential to be a very important piece in Diaz’s preparation for “The Spider.” According to Schilling, Diaz is looking better than ever and his kickboxing is improving:
“He is looking good. I think it’s going to be a good fight. His kickboxing has gotten a lot better. Nick and Nate are high-level boxers. They just don’t have a lot of good kickboxers to spar with.”
Facing one of the most decorated strikers and knockout artists in UFC history, Diaz was smart to enlist help in the kickboxing department. Will training with GLORY’s top two middleweights make the difference when Diaz looks to squash “The Spider” at UFC 183?