Could Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz be fighting for a shot at UFC gold when they meet early next year? UFC President Dana White can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly possible.
There’s no denying White is jazzed for the UFC 183 pay-per-view headliner between former longtime middleweight champ Silva (33-6 MMA, 16-2 UFC) and veteran Diaz (26-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC). He hasn‘t hidden the fact Silva is one of his favorite fighters, and Diaz turns heads wherever he goes.
Their contest, slated to go down Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, marks Silva’s first trip to the octagon since UFC 168 in late 2013, when he snapped his leg in gruesome fashion against reigning 185-pound titleholder Chris Weidman. It was the second time “The Spider” faced Weidman after his lengthy title reign was brought to an end in a stunning knockout loss to “All-American” just five months earlier at UFC 162.
Silva’s UFC accomplishments include the most knockouts in history, most consecutive wins, most consecutive title defense and an abundance of other records milestones.
Diaz, on the other hand, is a former Strikeforce champion who has fought for a UFC title twice in his career. His bouts are typically thrilling to watch – and the buildup to them usually polarizes fans – and more often than not, he ends them in dominant fashion, with more than 80 percent of his career victories coming by some form of stoppage.
By throwing Silva and Diaz in the cage together, White said he gave the fans exactly what they asked for.
“I’m pretty pumped for that fight,” White told MMAjunkie. “Anderson, I can’t wait until he comes back. He’s one of my favorite fighters. And you know Nick Diaz. He’s exciting, and that’s the fight Nick wanted. That’s the fight the fans wanted to see. So we did it.”
But what’s at stake in the fight? Silva already owns two losses to Weidman, and it’s rare for a fighter to be granted a third opportunity to face the same opponent, especially when a belt is on the line. Not all fighters are Silva, though.
Diaz also has a lot to gain with a win. He lost back-to-back championship fights prior to his self-inflicted retirement, but both those bouts were contested in the welterweight division. He’ll get a fresh start at middleweight, and taking out someone of Silva’s stature would be a major statement.
The buzz surrounding the Silva vs. Diaz matchup will unquestionably make it one of the biggest fights of 2015. White doesn’t want to commit to giving the winner a title shot since so much could change between now and January. He said the winner challenging for UFC gold is a possibly, though, and he plans to reassess the title picture after the fight.
“Anderson’s ranked No. 1 in the world right now at 185,” White said, referring to the UFC’s official rankings, in which champions aren’t ranked. “So obviously, Diaz, who is a 170-pounder, if he beats Anderson, it would be a pretty big statement for him.
“We’ll see what the (title) landscape looks like when that fight happens.”
For more on UFC 183, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.