Anderson Silva won a unanimous decision at UFC 183. | Photo: Josh Hedges/UFC/Zuffa/Getty
A little more than a year after he snapped his lower left leg in a failed bid to unseat reigning middleweight champion Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva made a triumphant return to the Octagon.
Silva punched and kicked in concert, countered effectively and provided glimpses of the man who once ruled the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as he took a unanimous decision from Nick Diaz in the UFC 183 headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. All three judges scored it for Silva (34-6, 17-2 UFC): 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45.
Diaz (26-10, 7-7 UFC) offered up his customary theatrics but struggled to deal with the Brazilian’s speed and precision; and the volume punching for which he has always been known was nowhere to be found. After a competitive first two rounds, Silva took over. Leg and body kicks, a crisp jab and dizzying striking combinations became more and more prevalent. Silva also mixed in some spectacular techniques: He attempted the slashing, vertical elbow he once utilized in felling Tony Fryklund and fired an angled flying knee over Diaz’s shoulder. Mostly, though, he circled and countered.
Silva authored a strong closing act, as he opened a gash underneath Diaz’s left eye with a close-quarters elbow in the fifth round, giving the judges and the audience one last strike by which to remember his performance. His 17 career victories inside the Octagon rank third on the all-time list, trailing only Georges St. Pierre (19) and Matt Hughes (18).
Related » UFC 183 Play-by-Play
Woodley Hands Overweight Gastelum First Loss
In the welterweight co-main event, Tyron Woodley pocketed a split decision over previously unbeaten “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum. Two of the three cageside judges struck scorecards in favor of Woodley, 29-28 and 30-27; a third saw it 29-28 for Gastelum, who missed weight for the match by nine pounds.
Neither man took the proverbial bull by the horns, as their confrontation was marked by extended periods of posturing and inactivity. Gastelum controlled the center of the cage and applied relentless pressure, while Woodley (15-3, 5-2 UFC) leaned almost exclusively on his right hand. One of those rights penetrated Gastelum’s defenses in the second round and nearly sat down the Arizonan. Gastelum recovered quickly and resumed his forward march.
Perhaps sensing the fight was slipping away, Gastelum (10-1, 5-1 UFC) stepped up his attacks in the third round and corralled Woodley along the fence. However, the finish he needed never materialized.
Iaquinta Scores Standing TKO
Serra-Longo Fight Team representative Al Iaquinta took care of Joe Lauzon with second-round punches in a lightweight showcase. Lauzon (24-10, 11-7 UFC) succumbed to the blows 3:34 into round two, bringing an end to his two-fight winning streak.
The two lightweights traded standup barbs in a tense first round; Lauzon landed the cleaner shots, but Iaquinta (11-3-1, 6-2 UFC) mixed up his kicks and punches at various levels. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 15 finalist made his move when he sent a straight right crashing through Lauzon’s defenses in round two. The punch staggered the Massachusetts native, and a subsequent right hook to the temple put him on the mat. Lauzon returned to unsteady footing and stumbled all across the cage, eating one right hand after another. Iaquinta eventually trapped him against the cage, stepped on the gas and forced referee Marc Goddard to step in.
Iaquinta is 6-1 in his past seven outings.
Leites Choke Sleeps Boetsch
Resurgent Nova Uniao export Thales Leites submitted Tim Boetsch with a second-round arm-triangle choke in a featured scrap at 185 pounds. Boetsch (18-8, 9-7 UFC) went to sleep 3:45 into round two, as he lost for the fourth time in six fights.
Leites (25-4, 10-3 UFC) elected to exchange with “The Barbarian” throughout the match and wandered into trouble -- Boetsch’s right hand was particularly effective -- more than once. Boetsch had the Brazilian on the run with clubbing punches in the second round, but in his haste to finish, he overcommitted and left himself exposed. Leites executed a takedown, climbed to full mount and threatened with an arm-triangle choke. Boetsch escaped his initial attempt but not the second. Leites advanced to mount again, locked in the choke a second time, pushed the Maine native away from the cage and separated him from consciousness.
The 33-year-old Leites has rattled off eight straight wins.
Alves Body Kick Stuns Mein
American Top Team’s Thiago Alves put away Jordan Mein with a second-round body kick and follow-up punches in a sizzling welterweight showcase. Alves (21-9, 13-6 UFC) brought it to a close 39 seconds into round two, recording his second consecutive victory.
Up until the finishing sequence, Mein (29-10, 3-2 UFC) was in complete control. The promising 25-year-old Canadian blasted away with looping power punches, leg kicks, standing elbows and various other strikes, as he had Alves on his heels for much of the first five minutes. After a right uppercut stunned and backed the Brazilian towards the cage, Mein let loose with standing elbows at close range. Only Alves’ chin kept him upright.
Early in the second round, Alves folded his 25-year-old counterpart with a wicked kick to the body, followed with a knee and sealed the deal with punches. Mein could not defend himself.
More UFC 183 »
• UFC 183 Prelim Results and Recap
• UFC 183 Play-by-Play