Anderson Diaz marks comeback with unanimous decision at UFC 183
LAS VEGAS — Anderson Silva won a unanimous decision in his comeback fight 13 months after breaking his left leg, dominating Nick Diaz at UFC 183 on Saturday night.
Silva (34-6) landed most of the big blows against the taunting Diaz, controlling a strange fight in the same MGM Grand Garden octagon where he shattered his lower leg with a kick to middleweight champion Chris Weidman’s knee in December 2013.
After months of rehabilitation, the 39-year-old Silva didn’t yet resemble the dominant champion who held the 185-pound belt for seven years. Yet he never faced much trouble from Diaz (27-10-1), who couldn’t back up his goading with consistent offense.
“Thank you God for giving me one more chance,” Silva said. “This is a very important moment for me. I went through a lot of suffering in the past year. At the beginning, I didn’t think I would be able to come back.”
In a fight that resembled performance art at times, Diaz taunted Silva with increasingly elaborate gestures from the opening minute, daring him to fight. Diaz stretched out flat on the canvas, backed up to the fence and even stood still with his chin exposed, daring Silva to engage.
“I felt like I was ahead most of the time,” Diaz said. “I don’t know how he wins, on damage or what. I probably won every round ... but these judges, they don’t like my attitude out here sometimes.”
Silva, himself a world-class clown at times in his career, kept it serious and pounded out a decision. He won 50-45 on two scorecards and 49-46 on the third. The Associated Press scored it 49-46 for Silva, even if he wasn’t quite the Spider that everyone remembers.
Silva had won 10 straight title defenses over seven years as the UFC’s most dominant champion until Weidman shockingly stopped him in their first bout in July 2013.
The rematch ended with Silva’s grotesquely broken leg, which required surgery and rehabilitation before he could even walk again. Yet he never publicly wavered in his determination to return to fighting, even though it was against the wishes of his wife and five children.
He returned to MMA training last fall at his gym in Southern California after accepting this fight with Diaz, the former Strikeforce welterweight champion and a fellow fan favorite.
Diaz had been away even longer, sitting out since March 2013 after back-to-back losses. The mercurial Diaz moved up 15 pounds for this fight, ending his semi-retirement for the big-money fight he craved.
Although both fighters are known for entertaining antics in addition to their skills, few would have predicted the wacky first round. Diaz waited 20 seconds to gesture at Silva to hit him. He then stretched out on the canvas, stood stock-still, and even backed all the way to the fence in a litany of taunting gestures.
Silva got into the action with a series of big shots late in the first round, while Diaz gradually got more serious. Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones stood up in the crowd when Silva returned to his stool, urging the former champ to breathe deeply.
Diaz kept up the clowning in the second round, even scratching his behind at one point. Silva showed increasing confidence in his kicks, throwing enough to raise cherry-red welts on Diaz’s ribs.
Silva kept up his steady offense and Diaz kept up his taunts in the final three rounds. Diaz opened the fifth by crouching, sticking out his chin and saying, “Come on, one shot,” to Silva, who kept circling.
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