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USA Today

LAS VEGAS — I arrived fashionably late for UFC 183, just in time for the first preliminary-card bout. But I was also just in time for Bruce Buffer's special announcement over the MGM Grand Garden Arena's loudspeakers: The bout between Jimy Hettes and Diego Brandao had been canceled at the last minute due to medical issues.

Minutes later, we'd find out that Hettes was displaying concerning signs, while getting his hands wrapped for the fight. And just like that, one of the most anticipated fights on the preliminary card went up in smoke. Sure, Brandao vs. Hettes was not Silva vs. Diaz. But it was an intriguing fight, and "circumstances" kept us from seeing it.

But mostly it was a continuation of the UFC's incredible run of bad luck. Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta would probably like to pretend the past seven days never happened. In addition to Hettes, UFC 183 also had weighty issues with both Kelvin Gastelum and John Lineker.

And in the midst of those troubles, Chris Weidman hurt his ribs and pulled out of UFC 184, and then Vitor Belfort began making all sorts of crazy demands about fighting for the "full" middleweight title (despite Weidman holding the belt and fighting last summer).

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Getty Images

Say this for UFC star Nick Diaz—the man knows how to put on a show. 

Spitting, taunting and at one point even laying down on the mat, Diaz made a mockery of Anderson Silva, the greatest middleweight to ever live. Perhaps he lost every stanza, though fight stats show several of the rounds were frighteningly close. But he lost his way, ending the fight with his head held high.

In Diaz world, that's just as good as a win. He was the one coming forward, even as the final bell approached. Silva, as is his wont, was unsure and unwilling to engage on anything but his own terms. A counterpuncher, he refuses to come forward as anything but a last resort.

In the past, that's led to some excruciatingly boring contests. His fight with Demian Maia was so awful, in fact, that UFC President Dana White stormed out of the arena before the conclusion, later apologizing to fans for the travesty.

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA Today

If you paid to see a show on Saturday at UFC 183, you certainly got your money’s worth—even at the fight company’s newly inflated pay-per-view asking price.

If you paid to see a fight? Well, you got more than you bargained for there too, although the outcome was never really in doubt.

In the end, returning former champion Anderson Silva walked away with a clear-cut unanimous-decision win over the always game Nick Diaz. Even in victory, however, Silva’s considerable star power couldn’t totally outshine The Nick Diaz Experience.

Diaz sneered and postured. He danced and mugged. Though he was outsized and outgunned, he went toe-to-toe with the greatest mixed martial artist of all time for five complete—if not necessarily triumphant—rounds. After the judges returned a near clean-sweep verdict in favor of Silva (49-46, 50-45 x 2), Diaz got on the mic and claimed victory.

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Steve Marcus/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — Just over one year ago, Anderson Silva was on the Octagon floor, holding his leg and screaming in pain.

Silva, perhaps the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts, had suffered a broken leg while attempting to leg-kick Chris Weidman. But Weidman blocked that kick, and Silva's leg broke, and I wrote that night about how it was probably the last time we'd see him in the Octagon and about how it was a horrible way for a career to end.

Careers often end up with a broken fighter lying on the canvas; rarely are aging fighters afforded happy endings. On that night, I could not imagine a scenario where Silva returned to the Octagon. Not at his age. And he had nothing left to prove. If he'd made the decision to walk away after that horrific injury, it would have been fine with me. 

But mostly, I wrote about how seeing Silva lying there made me feel and about how the sound was something I'll never forget. A year later, I still haven't forgotten that sound. I doubt I ever will.

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Eric Bolte/USA Today

I love Nick Diaz. 

In the spirit of full disclosure I think it's important to tell you that up front. It's a manly platonic love. Purely unprofessional? Sure. And deeply held.

Everything about Diaz resonates with me. His intransigence and "me against the world" outlook, his willingness to endure tremendous punishment to make his point to an opponent and his obnoxious petulance in the face of any and all obstacles—I feel that, man. 

There's tragic glory waiting to reveal itself every time Diaz fights. Even his moment of greatest triumph was eventually ruined by his own fondness for marijuana. Diaz can't get out of his own way.

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Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS—The fun part about a Nick Diaz fight isn't really the fight itself.

Not that there's anything wrong with the fights. Diaz is exciting, what with his constant motion and punches and trash-talking.

But it's the other stuff, the stuff that goes along with Diaz, that makes him such an attraction. That's why media members completely encircled Diaz's empty podium 20 minutes before the brash Stockton native was set to show up for Thursday's media day.

Anderson Silva, the greatest fighter in the history of the sport? Five media members awaited his arrival, which came 23 minutes after he was scheduled to arrive.

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Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Funny thing about these mixed weight "superfights."

They always sound great in theory.

Maybe when you're just spitballing ideas over a couple cold ones at the local watering hole, weight classes seem negotiable. Perhaps when you're trying to dream up a bestselling pay-per-view event on the whiteboard at Zuffa LLC world headquarters, the rules feel like they were made to be bent.

A couple days out from actually watching welterweight Nick Diaz fight middleweight legend Anderson Silva at UFC 183, however, nobody could blame you if you're having second thoughts. Will this get ugly? Is this really something we all want to watch? Both reasonable questions.

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USA Today

Conventional wisdom says Nick Diaz probably can’t beat Anderson Silva on Saturday at UFC 183.

At least, not the Diaz we’ve all come to know and love during his 11-plus years in the spotlight.

Oddsmakers see a mismatch in the offing here, with our partners at Odds Shark posting Diaz as nearly a 4-to-1 underdog. Even those numbers feel a bit conservative, and despite a last-minute promotional push, many spectators, including MMA writer Josh Gross, are preparing for a one-sided drubbing:

Setting aside the obvious—that Diaz is a welterweight, winless since 2011, jumping up in weight to challenge the greatest MMA fighter of all time—this bout represents a stylistic nightmare for him. The entire time we’ve known him, he’s been all about forward pressure, unbridled aggression and a high-volume striking attack.

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Dan Steinberg/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — If you ask Miesha Tate the question—the one question everybody wants to ask—she'll give you an honest answer.

"Do you want to fight Ronda Rousey again?"

Of course she does. The answer is yes and will always be yes, because Tate and Rousey are linked, bound together for as long as they both shall fight.

It was Rousey who used Tate to springboard her way to stardom by first verbally assaulting her and then physically repeating the process by submitting her to win the Strikeforce Women's Bantamweight Championship.

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Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today

Bleacher Report lead mixed martial arts writers Jonathan Snowden and Jeremy Botter have banded together—much like a modern-day version of Wham!—to take on the most important questions facing the MMA world. Welcome to The Question

In his last two fights, the once-great Anderson Silva was knocked unconscious and had his leg snapped into pieces. It seemed like an ignominious end to an amazing career. 

But rather than go gently into that good night, the 39-year-old Silva decided to carry on. He main events UFC 183 this weekend, taking on former welterweight challenger Nick Diaz.

Does Silva still have what it takes to compete with the world's best? Let's discuss.