Boone’s Breakdown: Outside of the main event, this is arguably the most intriguing match on this Saturday’s fight card. Ranked number three in the UFC Welterweight division, Woodley (14-3), has only lost to the elite of the elite. Outside of a knockout loss to Nate Marquardt in Strikeforce early in his career, Woodley has only tasted defeat twice — a close split decision loss to Jake Shields in June of 2013, and a unanimous decision defeat to the number two ranked 170-pounder in the world, Rory MacDonald.
Gastelum (10-0) on the other hand is still a bit of a question mark. Since winning The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale over Urijah Hall back in April of 2013, Gastelum has looked better with each performance. In his most recent fight, the 23-year old stud faced his highest level of competition to date, and passed said-test with flying colors by choking out Jake Ellenberger in the first round of their November 2014 meeting. On Saturday night, Gastelum steps up in competition once again, and while the odds makers have him a very slight favorite, I’m not so sure that he’s ready to take out someone such as Woodley. It’s a very closely matched contest, but I’ve got to go with the more experienced pro in this one.
Boone’s Prediction: Tyron Woodley
Boone’s Breakdown: Finally, we get to the fight everyone will be paying to see this Saturday night, as two MMA legends make their long-awaited Octagon returns at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
While a lot of the pre-fight focus has been on the fact that Anderson Silva (33-6) is returning after a lengthy layoff, he has actually fought more recently than his opponent this Saturday night, Nick Diaz (26-9).
Silva, of course, has been on the sidelines dealing with possibly the most gruesome injury in UFC history, along with Corey Hill, who suffered a similar injury back in 2008. That injury, of course, was a badly broken leg, an injury he suffered during his UFC Middleweight Championship rematch against the reigning 185-pound UFC title holder, Chris Weidman.
Saturday will mark the first time in Silva’s storied MMA career that he will be fighting after back-to-back loses, as he challenges the UFC bad boy Diaz.
Diaz, who generally fights at 170-pounds, but has competed plenty of times at 185, hasn’t been seen since his March 2013 unanimous decision loss to former UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre. The Stockton, California native sat on the sidelines claiming he wouldn’t make a comeback to fighting unless it was a big fight for a big payday. On Saturday, Diaz will get both. Oddly enough, much like Silva, Diaz will be making his return after back-to-back loses, something he hasn’t dealt with in nearly ten years.
Style-wise, this is pretty much guaranteed to be an exciting bout. Both guys like to bang on the feet, and both are among the best technical strikers in the game today. Both have tried to secure major boxing matches with the likes of Roy Jones Jr., and both have a lot of respect for the other man’s abilities.
The betting experts have Silva a huge favorite at -450, with Diaz coming in at +350, and while I agree that Silva is the favorite, I’m not sure if the odds should be quite that long. Many are counting Diaz completely out in this one, assuming that Silva’s size and more complete striking arsenal will be the difference. While I won’t disagree with either point, I do feel that Diaz has a better shot of pulling off the upset than most people think. At the same time, I simply can’t bet against “The Spider” in this one, as he has too many factors in his favor heading into the Octagon on Saturday night. Regardless, it should be a fun fight for the fans, and one that you should absolutely go out of your way to order. If you aren’t, however, make sure to stop by MMANews.com on Saturday evening, as we will be providing the absolute best, free, live UFC 183 round-by-round results coverage on the web.
What do you guys think of this Saturday’s UFC 183 fight card? Who are you picking to win the big PPV fights? Can Diaz pull off the upset? Let us know your thoughts by posting your feedback in the “Comments” section below. You can also add me on social media for daily news and views at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR, and/or on Twitter @MBoone420.