UFC 183 is upon us, and with it marks the return of Anderson Silva. The greatest middleweight of all-time headlines the MGM Grand Garden Arena opposite Nick Diaz, who is making his debut in the weight class. Also slated for the card is a catchweight co-main event between Kelvin Gastelum, who missed welterweight by 9 lbs, against Tyron Woodley. Rounding out the main card are lightweights Joe Lauzon and Al Iaquinta, middleweights Thales Leites and Tim Boetsch, and welterweights Thiago Alves and Jordan Mein.
Before we get to the bigger bouts, let's focus on the televised prelims, which feature top-ranked fighters out of the women's 135 and 125 lbs divisions. The UFC 183 preliminary card airs live on Fox Sports 1 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, and leads into the live PPV main card broadcast at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.
Tate sort of fell upwards to start out her UFC career. A loss to Cat Zingano turned into a title shot vs. Ronda Rousey when Zingano got hurt, which Tate ended up losing via 3rd round armbar. An unsightly 0-2 UFC record has since been erased with (albeit not overly impressive) wins over Liz Carmouche and Rin Nakai. Tate still sees herself as the woman with the best chance of beating Rousey, but a loss to McMann could heavily damage any chance of a 3rd opportunity.
McMann needed only one win in the UFC, a TKO over Sheila Gaff, to secure a title shot vs. Rousey at UFC 170. She was expected to really test Rousey with her Olympic wrestling credentials, but she instead took a knee to the body and was stopped in under 2 minutes. The loss ended her undefeated run, but the 34-year-old recovered with a decision nod against Lauren Murphy in August.
"Shortfuse" has been with the UFC since his TUF 3 days in 2006. His last appearance was a lackluster decision win over Rafael Natal in May. One of the more notable things Herman has done over the past few years is "go on loan" to Strikeforce to face Jacare Souza on the final Strikeforce event. The Team Quest guy was quickly submitted in the 1st round. Upon his return to the UFC, Herman would win FOTN honors vs. Trevor Smith before losing to Thales Leites at UFC 167.
A bout with food poisoning prevented Brunson from facing Herman at UFC on Fox 13 in December, so matchmaker Joe Silva rescheduled this fight for tonight. Brunson has been steady going inside the Octagon, defeating Chris Leben, Brian Houston, and most recently Lorenz Larkin. His only defeat was a 3rd round TKO against Yoel Romero, who he had badly hurt on multiple occasions. Brunson also lost to Jacare Souza by KO in Strikeforce, so he's already been in with some of the division's top guys.
John Lineker (24-7 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Ian McCall (13-4-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) - Flyweights (130 lbs catchweight)
Well the big story that has completely overridden the actual fight is the latest weight-cutting failure by Mr. Lineker. He's come in over the FLW limit four times, setting a UFC record in the process. It's a shame that this is the main focus, because Lineker is one of the hardest hitting punchers in the division and possibly all of MMA. His last appearance was a 3rd round TKO of Alptekin Ozkilic in a fight he was already winning prior to the stoppage. He was scheduled to face McCall in November, but an illness forced a fight day cancellation.
"Uncle Creepy" was part of the inaugural flyweight tournament, battling to a draw against Demetrious Johnson -- there should've been a sudden victory 4th round but a scoring error gave Mighty Mouse the win -- and then losing in the semifinal rematch. A decision defeat to Joseph Benavidez put McCall in a winless run of 3 to start out his UFC career, but he's recovered nicely with wins over Iliarde Santos and Brad Pickett.
Rafael Natal (18-6-1 MMA, 6-4-1 UFC) vs. Tom Watson (17-7 MMA, 2-3 UFC) - Middleweights
"Sapo" should be nearer a 3 fight losing streak instead of coming off a win. A controversial split decision over Chris Camozzi in September got him off the skid. Prior to the losses to Ed Herman and Tim Kennedy, Natal managed 3 straight wins over Sean Spencer, Joao Zeferino, and Tor Troeng. Consistency has been hard to find for Natal, and the biggest concern surrounding him is his suspect gas tank.
Speaking of someone who was nearly on a 3 fight losing streak, Watson avoided this fate with a less controversial and generally clear-cut decision win over Sam Alvey. "Kong" is best known for beating Murilo Rua, brother of Mauricio Rua, in BAMMA in England. Watson has been on the wrong end of two split decisions vs. Brad Tavares and Nick Catone, and also has a loss vs. Thales Leites.