Nick Diaz vs. Anderson Silva: An Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Steven RondinaFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2014

Nick Diaz vs. Anderson Silva: An Early Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    The UFC delighted fans with the announcement that two of its most popular fighters, Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz, were returning to the cage to face off in one of the closest things to a superfight we've seen since Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva.

    Now comes the anticipation. Six grueling months of anticipation.

    To kick things off, Bleacher Report brings you an early head-to-toe breakdown of Diaz vs. Silva. What do they do well? What do they do poorly? How do they match up against each other in any given department?

    Find out right here!

Striking

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    What Is Silva Good At?

    Silva has been competing at an elite level for so long that pretty much everyone knows his game by now. 

    He has a seemingly inhuman ability to slip punches (unless you're Chris Weidman), a diverse kicking game he can chain into brilliant combinations (unless you're Chris Weidman) and a clinch striking game that makes even the most fearsome wrestlers a bit reluctant to get close to him for a prolonged period of time (...unless you're Chris Weidman). 

    Few fighters can compete with him standing, and we've seen many times over what happens when they attempt to do so.

     

    What Is Diaz Good At?

    While fans have long heard of Diaz's shenanigans, few are legitimately familiar with his striking game. He has rare combination work in MMA and expertly mixes body work and head shots in order to soften up opponents.

    Against the cage, he literally uses his head to block opponents' movement, allowing him to batter them. Top it all off with amazing cardio, and you have a brutal high-volume puncher who wilts foes with his inimitable pressure.

     

    Who Has the Edge?

    Diaz's technical prowess is underappreciated for sure. ... But this is Anderson Silva. Even at age 39 and coming off brutal losses, it's hard to imagine him being beaten standing by anybody.

    Edge: Silva

Wrestling

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    What Is Silva Good At?

    While Silva may be the greatest of all time and has beaten almost all comers with very little difficulty, nobody will claim he is a particularly formidable wrestler. His takedown game is borderline nonexistent, and he isn't especially difficult to put on his back. 

     

    What Is Diaz Good At?

    In both EliteXC and Strikeforce, Diaz was sheltered from potent wrestlers. Sure, his fights with Frank Shamrock and Evangelista Santos were both amazing, but there's a reason Tyron Woodley was kept hidden in the oft-overlooked Strikeforce: Challengers.

     

    Who Has the Edge?

    Diaz has a modest edge in this category in terms of takedown defense. That ultimately does little for him here, however, as it's incredibly unlikely Silva will shoot on Diaz or vice versa.

    Edge: None

Grappling

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    What Is Silva Good At?

    While Silva was on the good end of two of the UFC's all-time greatest knockouts, he has beaten two of his greatest opponents (Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson) by submission. This is due to Silva's strong guard and his scary ground striking. While Silva is most certainly at his best standing, he is a tough out on the ground as well.

     

    What Is Diaz Good At?

    A strong case can be made that Nick Diaz is the best 170-pound Brazilian jiu-jitsu player in MMA. That's incredibly high praise considering he shares the division with Demian Maia, Jake Shields and Rousimar Palhares. Diaz owns a unique arsenal on the ground and is one of the best in the business at finishing a wounded opponent on the mat.

     

    Who Has the Edge?

    This might anger some, but there's no question that Diaz is the technically superior grappler. However, there's little question Silva would own a distinct edge on the ground rooted almost entirely in his massive size advantage.

    While Diaz could hypothetically rock Silva standing, slink around him and force him to tap to a choke, any ground battle will likely see The Spider muscle himself out of trouble and into advantageous positions.

    Edge: Silva

X-Factors

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    What Is Silva Working With?

    Even before Anderson Silva snapped his leg over Chris Weidman's knee, there were serious questions regarding the GOAT's level of motivation. Remember his weird walkout at UFC 168? How about him wanting to box Roy Jones Jr.? What about him wanting to join Brazil's Olympic taekwondo team for a spot in the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro?

    For a long time, it was unclear whether Silva even wanted to keep doing this whole MMA thing. Now, at age 39, he's going to fight Nick Diaz, whose success is basically built upon breaking his opponent's will? After spending a good portion of 2014 unable to walk without assistance? 

    Even if question marks weren't aplenty regarding Silva's actual physical status, this wouldn't necessarily be an ideal matchup for him near the end of his career.

     

    What Is Diaz Working With?

    Nick Diaz has been called many things, and many things have gone wrong throughout his MMA career. That said, it's impossible to question his work ethic and dedication out of the cage.

    The trouble with Diaz is and has always been his inability to make adjustments mid-fight. If Diaz can get into his range, keep applying pressure and keep landing punches, he can snowball his way to victory over anybody. If an opponent refuses to play into his hand, however, he is left flustered, frustrated and swinging at air.

    Still, his cardio is among the best in MMA, and while Silva's legacy is well-secured, Diaz is still looking to maintain his relevance as one of MMA's biggest draws.

    Edge: Diaz

Predictions

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    While Diaz is the hungrier fighter and will almost certainly enter fight night as the stronger, more in-shape participant, this is a stylistic nightmare for the Stockton, California, native.

    Diaz is a fighter who likes to come forward. Silva is a fighter who punishes offensive efforts. This, very simply, is his fight to lose. 

    Sure, Silva has a few ways to lose this fight. His cardio could fail him, he could put in a C-level effort, or he could just be uncharacteristically tentative after suffering a major injury.

    Ultimately, though, if Silva comes back as anything resembling the man he was in 2011, he will batter Diaz standing, bully him in the clinch and finish him on the ground.

    Prediction: Anderson Silva defeats Nick Diaz by submission in Round 3