Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz:
It’s safe to say that Anderson Silva’s awaited return is a joyous occasion for most MMA fans and I’m definitely no different. But this he come with a generous heaping of daunting question marks after his two losses, advancing age, and broken leg. Luckily for him, the UFC gave him a perfect opponent for his Muay Thai style in Diaz, a fighter who never stops coming forward and throwing punches, yet rarely, if ever, moves his head. He’s also been out of the cage for close to two years now, and hasn’t won a fight since 2011. Silva may be getting up in there age, but it’s hard for me to see why Diaz’ fans still view him as relevant in today’s fast-paced MMA world. If any other fighter hadn’t won a bout in going on four years, he’d undoubtedly be chalked up as done, but Diaz moves the needle. Regardless, I don’t see him winning this fight. He’ll do better than many believe, perhaps, but ultimately I see “The Spider” winning this one with a second round TKO stoppage.
It’s not a hard pick for me here at all. Anderson Silva has proved time and time again why he is one of the most feared strikers on the planet, and only recently was it discovered that his kryptonite was Chris Weidman. Fortunately for “The Spider,” Nick Diaz is the polar opposite of “The All-American”, with pretty much zero offensive wrestling and high-volume boxing. The Diaz brothers are notorious for taking a lot of punishment, but not this time in my opinion. Look for the former middleweight champion to get the job done early, and then call out Chris Weidman in the post-fight interview. In a battle of precise counter-striker vs. volume-boxing grappler, I’m picking Anderson Silva for the first round TKO.
For me, this fight depends on which version of Anderson Silva shows up, even more than which version of Nick Diaz shows up because I truly believe that if the old Silva, the one who held the belt for seven years, shows up, then he can beat any version of Diaz. However, coming off of the injury that he sustained, it’s hard to say what “The Spider” will look like come fight night. If Diaz is in the best shape possible, he could pose some threats, but I don’t see many ways he can win. Both men are great strikers, with Diaz showcasing relentless pace, great boxing, and his patented go-forward style, while Silva is a Muay Thai tactician with precise accuracy and great power. Another factor here is Silva’s kicks, of course this depends on if he is weary to throw them. However, the Diaz brothers are known for having a boxing stance which opens them up to leg kicks; Silva’s specialty. Both men are also BJJ black belts, but I see this one playing out on the feet. “The Spider” will also have the size advantage. In my opinion, Silva is just better and I see him returning to greatness. Silva by second round knockout.
Tyron Woodley vs. Kelvin Gastelum:
This is a fight that’s a true test for Gastelum at welterweight; let’s be honest, his wins over Jake Ellenberger and Nico Musoke just didn’t present the same kind of challenge that the No. 3-ranked “Chosen One” does. Gastelum has very solid wrestling, grappling, and striking, but not one of those skillsets is on par with the elite opponents Woodley has battled over the past year. It’s hard to say which fighter will have an advantage if the fight lasts more than a round; Gastelum has had major problems making the division’s 170-pound weight limit and Woodley is massively muscled. But I don’t see it playing out that way. Gastelum may surprise, but I think Woodley teaches him a lesson with a first round TKO.
Tyron Woodley vs. Kelvin Gastelum is a very interesting bout. Both have their roots firmly planted in wrestling but have continued to evolve their striking game. No doubt “The Chosen One” has much better and more powerful striking at this stage, but “Mini Cain” is 9 years younger, undefeated and hungry. Gastelum also comes with a very tight Jiu-jitsu game, honed as a purple belt at 10th Planet, in comparison to Woodley’s brown belt under Ricardo Liborio. It’s a real tough one to pick, but my gut is telling me to go with Kelvin Gastelum by submission in round three.
I would like to start off by saying that I don’t think Kelvin Gastelum is as big of an underdog as most think he is. The former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner is undefeated, hungry and extremely well rounded. He may not be great anywhere, but he is solid everywhere. He has decent striking and power, good wrestling, and he may even have the submission advantage in this fight. However, despite all of this, he has never faced a fighter the caliber of Tyron Woodley. Woodley is a top welterweight with great speed, devastating power, and a strong wrestling background. I see “The Chosen One” using his wrestling to keep the fight on the feet and ultimately land one of his huge bombs to put the young gun away. Woodley by second round TKO.
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