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Hindsight - UFC 183: Silva vs. Diaz in retrospect

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There's never any telling what you'll say or do next, except that it's bound to be something astonishing.*

Between Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz, there has for years been a real feeling of astonishment and the unknown. Both men have spent their careers carrying an aura of invulnerability along with them... Which, strangely enough, hasn't actually, necessarily involved them being invulnerable. Both Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz have lost before. One of them was going to lose again at UFC 183, there were no surprises there. The surprise, eventually in the aftermath, is that both men suddenly looked somewhat close to mortal. As far as fight picks go, I went 8-3, 7-4 if you really want to hold me to my word.

Disclaimer Time: As far as betting is concerned, this card didn't really feel like it had a ton of value. I probably would have bet on Santos and Alcantara, and maybe regretted placing a bet on Lineker once he missed weight and got dominated over the first round (later would have obviously been glorious). And I may have lost on McMann and won on Iaquinta, if I'd played things really smart. But, I don't gamble, so that's all just theory, and what's worse, it's hindsight of what I would have done looking at the odds as they ended up being. Nothing like a reasonable betting guide (which I've never claimed to be). Instead, this is all about fighter development, using fight picks and odds as a way of gauging how fighters are performing against their expectations. I'll be suing BestFightOdds for the odds on each fight, and taking the mode for each fighter. Now, on to the fights...

Andy Enz (+155) vs. Thiago Santos (-175) (I picked Santos, I was right)

  • The Expectation: I figured that Thiago Santos' aggression and output would take this fight for him. I really didn't expect him to do it as fast or as violently as he did, but Enz's increased focus on his hands has led to him putting himself in a worse position to get hit and take damage. Against a fighter like Santos, he paid the price early.
  • Fallout for Enz: His time in the UFC is likely done. He appears to be struggling with the transition from being a top control ground and pound fighter to being a more well rounded, kickboxing focused fighter. He's obviously been working on his striking and working to up his output, but working on something and winning with it are very different things. Enz isn't winning in the UFC and probably wont be with the skills he has right now.
  • Fallout for Santos: This is his second quality striking win, both on the end of his body kicking ability. He's still not a great technical striker, but he's fast and, since he's not a huge MW, he appears to be able to fight hard for multiple rounds while putting a lot of power behind his strikes. He's got fun action fighter written all over him if he continues to develop and I look forward to seeing his next time out in the cage.

Ildemar Alcantara (-165) vs. Richardson Moreira (+140) (I picked Alcantara, I was pretty much right)

  • The Expectation: Two guys without a lot of fight ending tools were going to battle things out in what would most likely be a pretty ugly fight. I had no idea what version of Alcantara would show up. No matter what he was going to be capable of dealing with Moreira, but more dominant versions of him could have done a lot more than this.
  • Fallout for Alcantara: It looks like the same imposingly lackluster monolith that fought at welterweight is stepping in the cage at middleweight. Alcantara's striking is alright, his wrestling is alright, his grappling is decent... But nothing about his skills is going to get fans consistently interested in watching him fight. And this bout was the best example of a matchup that he could have dominated. But, he let go to a wonky split decision. Hard to see him winning bigger fights consistently.
  • Fallout for Moreira: He's probably gone... probably. The UFC may want to keep him around, just because it's only his second loss and he did look a little better. But, while he's inexperienced, he's not that young, and the UFC generally puts TUF fighters on a short leash (0-2 is usually the end). Even if he stays around, his leg-lock heavy game isn't going to do him any favors.

Rafael Natal (-130) vs. Tom Watson (+110) (I picked Watson, I was wrong)

  • The Expectation: Obviously betting lines were close, and for my part, I'd say it's a fight where not only did Natal show up and fight consistently for 15 minutes, but heading in, it wasn't quite clear just how deep the athletic gulf between himself and Watson really was. It's hard to say if this was a better showing from Natal, or just a really poor showing from Watson. Probably somewhere in between.
  • Fallout for Natal: Surprisingly, Rafael Natal, for all his inconsistencies is one of the longer tenured, more winning middleweights. There are only 12 fighters in the middleweight division with more cage time than him, and his 7-4-1 record is better than most. He may not be quite in contention for a ranking, but He's definitely in the upper third of MWs in the UFC.
  • Fallout for Watson: His win over Sam Alvey last time out may save him from the chopping block, but he's getting into that territory where the UFC would probably feel justified in cutting him after any future loss. His wins have been ugly, his losses have been ugly. The fact that he's somewhat interesting outside the cage is good, but sooner or later his lack of production inside it will catch up with him. Amazingly he hasn't fought Trevor Smith or Andrew Craig, so those might be good next fights.

John Lineker (+180) vs. Ian McCall (-220) (I picked Lineker, I was right)

  • The Expectation: This was always going to be a bad matchup for McCall, even if he's the more athletic and well rounded fighter. And I'm a little surprised that the odds never reflected that. To McCall's credit, he showed exactly how dominant he could be with a really one sided first round. But, the moment Lineker put a dent in his confidence with that guillotine he was in McCall's head. And from there, the fight was all his.
  • Fallout for Lineker: Unfortunately he's really screwed the pooch here, especially for Demetrious Johnson and the UFC. By missing weight, he's taken himself out of the title picture and will end up fighting at bantamweight. I think he'll still be decent there (maybe even top 10), but there's no good reason for him not to be at 125. Hopefully after a fight or two, he gets enough motivation to drop back down and take his career more seriously. Until then he'll still be fun to watch.
  • Fallout for McCall: At one point considered the world's best flyweight, Ian McCall has had all kinds of trouble living up to that reputation in the UFC. It's obvious that the physical tools are there, it's obvious that the skills are there, but the consistent application isn't. The UFC's not going to cut him, but they have a real problem if they want him to ever be more than a featured talent.

Derek Brunson (-700) vs. Ed Herman (+500) (I picked Brunson, I was right)

  • The Expectation: As the odds show, Brunson was supposed to come in and walk all over Ed Herman. Personally, I wasn't sure whether that would be a Bader/Perosh 15 min mauling or something a lot more brief and exciting. I'm glad it was the latter.
  • Fallout for Brunson: He's a MW on a rise and in a fair and just world he'd have himself a spot in the rankings right now. I expect his next fight out to be against a ranked opponent, and unless it's someone really close to a title shot, I expect him to win. Brunson is a top 15 guy and right now he's fighting like one.
  • Fallout for Herman: It probably wont be, but this should serve as Herman's wake up call. It's the first knockout loss of his career, and in his mid-30s and with 12 years of fighting already under his belt, chances are it won't be his last if he keeps on going forward. Herman met a young fighter in his prime head on, and lost badly. Are there guys kicking around 185 he could still compete with? Probably. But He's at about 50/50 odds at best against anyone right now.

Sara McMann (-185) vs. Miesha Tate (+160) (I picked McMann, I was wrong-ish)

  • The Expectation: I can't believe McMann lost this fight. I didn't see it coming, could never have visualized it. McMann was supposed to have the advantage everywhere except pure grappling, but boy what a huge difference pure grappling made. McMann put herself in some terrible situations and in those situations Tate totally dominated. I frankly scored the fight for Tate as well. I can understand the draw, but Tate's offense in the 2nd round was the most impactful part of that round, and swung it for me.
  • Fallout for McMann: This was a bad loss. McMann was primed for another title shot off a couple of wins but this loss left her not just further away, but looking totally unable to compete at the elite level of the sport. Her boxing looked strong, her wrestling was good, but her grappling was miserable, and that alone kills almost any interest in seeing her fight for a title again.
  • Fallout for Tate: She got an incredibly improbable underdog win, much wider than I think the odds show here. It's a win that almost puts her back in line for a shot at Rousey, which is crazy considering how badly she lost the last fight and how uninspired she's looked since that loss. This was a strong win over another top contender and shows that for now, she's not going anywhere outside the top 5.

Thiago Alves (+120) vs. Jordan Mein (-140) (I picked Mein, I was wrong)

  • The Expectation: This was supposed to be Jordan Mein's time. He was the favorite over a longtime and dangerous vet. He was the younger fighter, closer to the prime of his career, and he's had the experience under his belt to handle someone like Alves. This was Mein's get over fight, and he got got.
  • Fallout for Alves: He's ranked again, amazingly, and it's hard to understate how huge this win was in his career rejuvenation. He's become a more technical fighter, even as his physical tools have slowed. And both sides of that showed here. He got beat up early, but showed supreme technique landing a perfect kick to the floating rib. Is he going to make another title run? I really doubt it. But he's still competitive with the bottom half of the ranked welterweights.
  • Fallout for Mein: This is an ugly, ugly loss for Mein. Welterweight is a big dangerous division that can easily swallow up a fighter like him by moving him from tough fight to tough fight. He's young at 25, but the extreme mileage he's put on his body puts him at high risk for falling off sharply early. There's a feeling that the time really is right now for Mein and him losing this bout may be a setback that he never totally recovers from. Obviously, at his age that could be wrong, but this feels like an ominous loss.

Tim Boetsch (+250) vs. Thales Leites (-330) (I picked Leites, I was right)

  • The Expectation: I though Leites would be better everywhere right now, including in the pocket. That didn't end up being the case, and speaks a bit to my feeling that Boetsch is still in the prime of his career (even if he's not winning). Neither man was adept from the outside, and Boetsch was way better on the inside. Eventually, the wrestling and grappling made the difference, but it was a close run thing.
  • Fallout for Boetsch: I'm glad he's coming off a win in his last fight because he shouldn't get cut off this loss. Boetsch may not be top 10 material, but he's a hell of a tough fighter. His combination of clinch wrestling and inside boxing make him a dangerous opponent for almost anyone, even if he's a limited one. Knock him a rung down the ladder and let him take on some of the MW chaff and he'll provide fun action every time.
  • Fallout for Leites: Interestingly, this probably dampens expectations for him, just a little. Leites is a much better fighter than he ever used to be, but his striking still has holes, holes that more elite strikes could probably find with more ease. He's dangerous everywhere and has some good matchups in the top 10, but given his struggles here, it doesn't feel like he's headed for the top 5.

Al Iaquinta (-190) vs. Joe Lauzon (+160) (I picked Iaquinta, I was right)

  • The Expectation: I picked Iaquinta with the expectation that he would roll over Joe Lauzon. I like Lauzon, but Iaquinta is a talented athlete who looks to be hitting his stride. Which, makes me a bit surprised just how well Lauzon did early in the fight. He was able to stay on Iaquinta; when Iaquinta stood flat footed, Lauzon landed regularly. But, Ray Longo did a great job keeping Iaquinta focused in the second, and he showed off his top tier talent.
  • Fallout for Iaquinta: His win over Pearson proved he was a top tier lightweight, and this win proved that he could perform at that level consistently. The next step is getting someone ranked. Iaquinta has moved from prospect to developed talent and now it's just a question of how high his talent will carry him.
  • Fallout for Lauzon: While he's never been much more than a win/loss action fighter for the UFC, for a time Lauzon was also considered a top tier talent. That time may be past. He can still compete, he can still be a fun fighter, but if he keeps facing talent at this level he may start losing a lot more consistently.

Kelvin Gastelum (+160) vs. Tyron Woodley (-200) (I picked Woodley, I was mostly right)

  • The Expectation: In the lead up, during fight week, I picked Gastelum, with some confidence. Once it turned out Gastelum wasn't going to make weight, and had even been hospitalized, I couldn't see him getting the win. He still came close, which is indicative of just how much Woodley can be bullied, but he didn't win this bout.
  • Fallout for Gastelum: He's now a middleweight (at least for the short term). His weight cutting problems have had drastic effects on his performances. When his cut doesn't go well, he doesn't seem to have the same physical dominance, the same sting on his strikes, the same competitive edge. Hopefully a stint at middleweight will cure that, otherwise Gastelum may have put his rise in the UFC on hold.
  • Fallout for Woodley: He won, but not in a way that's going to have anyone talking about himself as a future contender. Still, winning is the biggest thing, and he'll get another top 5-ish fighter. If he does well in that fight, then he could be in line for a shot at the belt. This, eventually, just ended up putting him in a holding pattern.

Nick Diaz (+310) vs. Anderson Silva (-400) (I picked Silva, I was right)

  • The Expectation: I really didn't know what to expect. I picked Silva, and I may even have picked him by KO, but I was mostly just expecting theater. And we got theater. The fight itself was sort of an absurdist mime of a fight, with a very real fight undercurrent occurring underneath that veneer. In that way, it was fascinating, but from just a certain "hardcore fight fan" perspective, it left something to be desired.
  • Fallout for Diaz: I'll assume he moves back to welterweight. There are fun fights there for him, men like Sexyama, Koscheck, hell even Joe Riggs. Hopefully the UFC just uses him for co-main/FS1 headline slots against other fun fighters outside the title picture.
  • Fallout for Silva: He's talking about retiring. I won't tell him to, but I'd support it 100%. If not, like Diaz, there are guys he can fight, but the chances of him getting back in the title picture are slim. And if the UFC forces him back into that picture, it could cause him serious harm. Silva won at UFC 183, but he didn't look great, and mostly he just seemed relieved that it was over.

Those are my collected thoughts from UFC 183. Much of what I wrote seems obvious now, but as always, that's the benefit of hindsight. Stay tuned for next week, when I'll be talking about a welterweight on the rise in Brandon Thatch. Until then!

*This week's quote courtesy of the film the Maltese Falcon.