It had been over a year since former middleweight champion Anderson Silva made that long walk from the locker rooms, through the tunnel and into the Octagon when he faced Nick Diaz in the UFC 183 main event on Saturday.
The 39-year-old returned for the first time since snapping his leg while throwing a leg kick that titleholder Chris Weidman checked at UFC 168 in December 2013. At the time of the injury, many questioned whether Silva would ever fight again. Heading into the bout with Diaz, questions remained about how Silva would respond after such an injury at his age.
He looked light on his feet as he circled along the outside of the cage in the opening moments of the fight. He and his opponent kept things respectful in the build up to the event, but the taunting and trash talk began almost immediately.
Diaz pulled out all the taunts in his weaponry. He laid down on the canvas in front of Silva. He backed up to the cage like Silva did when he faced Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153. He put his chin out and shuffled his feet.
Silva remained composed and landed leg kicks and jabs. Diaz stayed in the fight, landing to the body and catching Silva with combinations. He was successful in delivering strikes while in the clinch. But as the rounds wore on, Diaz’ face began showing the damage that he was taking. Silva opened up a cut above and below Diaz’ left eye.
It was a competitive fight that entertained, and after five rounds of fighting, Silva was confident he had done enough to win on the judges’ scorecards. Diaz walked around the perimeter of the cage holding his hands above his head. When the decision was read revealing Silva the winner by unanimous decision, Silva was overcome with emotion.
“This is a very important moment for me, a very important moment for my whole family, for all the Brazilians,” said Silva following the win. “I went through a lot of suffering the past year, everything that I went through. In the beginning I thought that I wouldn’t be able to come back. I have to thank my doctor and the doctor that performed my surgery.”
Asked about the in-octagon antics, Silva said it’s just part of the spectacle that viewers get when he or Diaz competes.
“This is a great show for the people. Nick is a great show. I’m a great show. This is for the people here. This is no bad man. This is Nick Diaz. This is the show. This is the UFC,” said the former champion.
Taunting is just part of Diaz’ game. It’s part of why he’s so popular. Diaz revealed what he was saying to Silva during the fight in his post-fight interview.
“ I said, ‘let’s go.’ I said, ‘come get you some.’ I was like, ‘throw it,’” said the Stockton native.
When the scorecards were being read, Diaz expected his name to be announced as the winner. In fact, he thought he had won all five rounds.
“I felt like I was ahead most of the time. I was asking the last round, am I winning, am I losing this fight, is it close,” he said.
“I felt like I won every round. Every round. I came forward,” he said. “I don’t think, these judges like my attitude out here sometimes, but I have to push my guy to throw so I can get my fight going. If he was just going to walk around, we’re not really fighting. I can just stand here all day too. Maybe that would be better for you, but then I wouldn’t be here today,” continued Diaz.
“I don’t know how he wins, on damage or what. If you lay down in front of me, I’m going to come in and get you. If you’re going to give me a free show, I’m going to take it,” he added. “I was over there counting. I added up the strikes. I’d like to know. I don’t know, I’ll have to watch the fight again. It’s hard to see inside here, but I’m ready to go. Thanks for everybody for coming out. I’m going to talk my talk. I’m going to walk my walk, though.”
(Photo courtesy of UFC)
> SEE ALSO: UFC 183 Silva vs. Diaz Full Live Results
Follow @JeffMMAWeekly on Twitter