The UFC is back in Las Vegas for its Super Bowl weekend PPV, and headlining the proceedings is the incomparable Anderson Silva. He'll be facing Nick Diaz in a fight scheduled for five rounds at middleweight, where Silva reigned supreme for 7 years, while Diaz has never fought at the weight class.
Before the main event at the MGM Grand, UFC 183 provides plenty of interesting match-ups on the main card. There's a pivotal showdown in the co-main event plus a couple of former UFC title challengers further down the lineup. Bloody Elbow is here to give you a brief summary of each bout. The UFC 183 main card airs live on PPV at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, with prelims preceding it on Fox Sports 1 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT.
Gastelum could be the greatest ever TUF winner win all is said and done. After upsetting the heavily favored Uriah Hall at middleweight, Gastelum dropped to welterweight and has quickly ascended up the rankings. Gastelum's best win came in November when he submitted Jake Ellenberger in the 1st round at UFC 180. Sadly, Gastelum has reportedly been ill all week and missed weight by 9 lbs, thereby making this a catchweight affair.
While in Strikeforce, Woodley had developed a bit of a reputation for not being exciting to watch. This changed even in his title loss to Nate Marquardt, and in the UFC he's developed some incredibly powerful striking. Woodley wiped out Jay Hieron in his UFC debut, then planted Josh Koscheck at UFC 167, and is coming off a TKO of Dong Hyun Kim in August. His other UFC win was a TKO of Carlos Condit after Condit had injured his knee. Unfortunately for Woodley, he's lost bouts to Jake Shields and Rory MacDonald by decision, and concerns over his lack of consistent offense have prevented him from taking that next step towards a title shot.
There aren't too many more exciting fighters in the UFC than Joe Lauzon. A veteran of 17 fights inside the Octagon, which started off with the stunning KO of Jens Pulver in 2006, Lauzon is one of the most prolific earners of post-fight bonuses. In total, he's racked up 6 FOTNs, 6 SOTNs, and the KO bonus for beating Pulver. The 30-year-old has gotten back on track by beating Mac Danzig and Michael Chiesa, after losing consecutive bouts to Jim Miller and Michael Johnson. While Lauzon is dangerous just about anywhere the fight takes place, his bread and butter is his active ground game and array of submissions, particularly armlocks and triangle chokes.
Iaquinta was the favorite to win season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter, but Michael Chiesa had other ideas and scored the upset in the season finale. The Long Island native then reeled off three straight wins and was seemingly headed for a 4th against Mitch Clarke, only to see a dominant 1st round go to waste with a d'arce choke that put him to sleep. Iaquinta rebounded with a TKO of Rodrigo Damm and then a very impressive display of hands in his 2nd round stoppage of Ross Pearson in November.
Leites was best known for his dreadful title fight with Anderson Silva, and he was cut after losing to Alessio Sakara in his very next fight. Painted as a one-dimensional BJJ guy, Leites has lost only once since his initial release and the UFC's re-signing, and has demonstrated vastly improved striking in recent showings. Leites blitzed Trevor Smith and finished him in under a minute, and then capped off his 2014 with a KO of former top 10 middleweight Francis Carmont. It's safe to say that the bad taste left in people's mouths after the Silva fight has since gone away, and Leites is making the most of his 2nd chance.
Boetsch became an unlikely contender when he was brought back to the UFC in 2010. After an unremarkable run at light heavyweight, Boetsch went 4-0 at middleweight, including an unforgettable comeback KO of Yushin Okami in Japan, as well as a split decision win over the highly touted Hector Lombard. Tim went back down to earth after losing to Costas Philippou, Mark Munoz, and Luke Rockhold, but managed a huge win in August by stopping Brad Tavares. Boetsch's toughness makes up for his relative shortage in skills required to be a top 5 middleweight, and while he's the underdog for this fight, he's certainly not one to be counted out.
Alves was a one-time force at welterweight, racking up the wins and knockouts on his way to being the #1 contender. Since losing to Georges St-Pierre in 2009, Thiago has fought just 6 times and has alternated wins and losses during that span. His lone fight in 2014 was an entertaining unanimous decision win over Seth Baczynski in April. "Pitbull" makes his 2015 debut and his fight with Jordan Mein is expected to be a striking war.
Mein had already built up an impressive list of victims prior to joining the UFC, most notably Josh Burkman, Tyler Stinson, and Marius Zaromskis. The 25-year-old Canadian raised eyebrows by stopping Dan Miller with strikes. He stepped in on short notice to take on Matt Brown in April 2013, but he was unable to finish Brown with an early knockdown and found himself TKO'd in the 2nd. Mein edged out Hernani Perpetuo in his 2014 debut and then registered a very good knockout win over veteran Mike Pyle in August.