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Top 10 Things to Watch for at UFC 183

With all the controversy surrounding the end of UFC 182 with Jon "Bones" Jones-ing-for-a-couple-of-rails testing positive for illegal substances (who cares), some people seem to have forgotten that th

With all the controversy surrounding the end of UFC 182 with Jon "Bones" Jones-ing-for-a-couple-of-rails testing positive for illegal substances (who cares), some people seem to have forgotten that there is an event coming up in less than two weeks. UFC 183 has no title fights but it will still either be the most exciting or second most exciting event this year. Instead, their is an important fight, as two long time UFC stars will face off. One is coming off one of the most graphic injuries ever seen in the octagon, while the other is coming out of retirement.

That's right, Anderson "The Spider" Silva is back and he's taking on Nick Diaz. Plenty of people are predicting a miserable blood bath for Diaz but there is plenty at stake in that fight. If Diaz can compete (or just not get mangled too badly), will he continue to fight? Keep in mind, he has fought at Lightweight and Welterweight, but this will be his first fight at 185, in the Middleweight division.

Other fights in this event include some good competitors that will make it an interesting one. Two Lightweights who started out with the UFC on The Ultimate Fighter, Joe Lauzon and Al Iaquinta will face off in a scrap that could turn ugly quickly. Miesha Tate and Sara McMann will throw down as the #2 and #3 UFC women's Bantamweights, and Tyron Woodley enters the octagon against undefeated Kelvin Gastelum, who is 11-0 in MMA with five straight wins in the UFC, including a big victory over Uriah Hall in TUF 17. The two main card fights not yet mentioned are Middleweights Thales Leites and Tim Boetsch and Welterweights Thiago Alves against Jordan Mein.

In anticipation of what should be a great event, here are ten things to keep an eye out for and consider with regard to several of the fights taking place at UFC 183. It is still over a week until the fight and it is MMA, so some fights could change, but these are fights taking place as of January 20th, 2015.

10 Diego Brandao vs Jimy Hettes: Strikes Against a Ground Game

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Both of these 27 year old Featherweights have been in the promotion since 2011, and both hold winning records in the UFC, but neither are considered big stars in the division. Brandao is coming off two losses to the UFC's current fifth and sixth ranked Featherweights, Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, while Hettes is 3-2 in the UFC, and lost his last fight via TKO in the third round against Dennis Bermudez.

Both fighters are seeking to possibly bust into the top 15 in the division, and both will have a tough time. Jimy Hettes is an accomplished Judo practitioner with a focus on submissions, while Brandao likes to stand and trade. It all comes down to whether Hettes can evade and let the Brazilian punch himself tired and then put his strategy to work. Hettes has yet to win a fight by KO or TKO, but ten of his eleven wins have come via submission. Brandao may be the more well rounded fighter, but Hettes is a dangerous fighter when the fight's on the ground.

9 Joe Lauzon vs Al Iaquinta: Will They Put on the Fight of the Night?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This can be a question asked of any Joe Lauzon fight. He is by no means the best in the business or even in his weight class, but he is possibly one of the most exciting fighters of all time. Lauzon and Iaquinta are both unranked in the Lightweight division but both are exciting fighters. Because Anderson Silva vs Nick Diaz should be (will be) a massacre, and Tyron Woodley vs Kelvin Gastelum may well end upon the ground for three rounds, Iaquinta and Lauzon may well put on the Fight of the Night. Both like to throw and Iaquinta has decent stamina. Lauzon on the other hand, never lets a fight get boring and leads the promotion in most post-fight bonuses. Lauzon has a slight advantage in the submission game but neither is a slouch on the ground or on their feet, and Iaquinta looks slightly more comfortable in the clinch.

8 Jordan Mein: 25 Years Old Fighting His 39th Professional Fight

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

A relative newcomer to the UFC, Jordan Mein, from Alberta (Canada's closest wannabe equivalent to Texas, no offense intended to Albertans or Texans) is just 25 and already a highly seasoned and well-rounded scrapper. Primarily a striker, Mein has been active in kickboxing for almost fifteen years, utilizing great size and 73 inches worth of reach at 170 lbs. His father is a fight promoter in his hometown of Lethbridge, and Mein has been fighting professionally since age 16.

As previously noted, Mein is a gifted striker and has achieved success across Canada in various promotions, and is 3-1 in UFC competition, losing only to 6th ranked Matt Brown back in 2013. At age 25, he already has 38 fights under his belt, having competed professionally for nine years. With this 39th fight, hat's an average of roughly 4.3 fights per year. Facing off against Thiago Alves should be an interesting opportunity for Mein to take on an older fighter with significantly more UFC experience.With a couple more successful fights, Mein could become a contender. Then again, a couple of losses could see him slink back to the Great White North into anonymity

7 Thales Leites vs Tim Boetsch: Can Leites Finish Boetsch and Make it Eight?

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Thales Leites and Tim Boetsch are both in their 30's, and both are currently in their second stints in the UFC. Boetsch was unsuccessful in his first few UFC fights in 2008 and 2009, leaving and fighting three fights in other promotions before returning in 2010. Between 2010 and July 2012, he went 5-1 but has since lost three of five. He is still ranked 13th in the Middleweight rankings, but one or two more losses could see him drop out of the top 15.

Leites on the other hand is on his way up right now. He left UFC competition in late 2009 after two tough losses, (one to Anderson Silva) and fought in four other promotions until his return in 2013. He is undefeated in his last seven fights, with four coming in the UFC. One thing that Leites now has in his arsenal that was not there before is his newfound striking power. Prior to 2013, he was known mostly for wrestling and won primarily by decision or submission. His last two fights were against Trevor Smith and Francis Carmont. Neither is an elite striker but Leites TKO'd the former and knocked out the latter.

6 How Close is Ian McCall to a Title Shot?

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Uncle Creepy returns to the octagon at the end of the month, riding two unanimous decision wins in 2013 and 2014. He is the ranked third among Flyweights in the UFC, with a record of 2-2-1 in UFC. John Lineker is ranked 6th in the division with a 5-2 record. He has notably missed weight three times since starting to fight in the UFC.

This fight will likely not take place standing up if McCall has anything to say about it. He is one of the best wrestlers in the division and has great takedown defense and can avoid strikes well. The two Flyweights to whom McCall lost are the champion (Demetrious Johnson) and #2 Joseph Benavidez. A strong showing from McCall against a well-rounded fighter like John Lineker could put him in line for a title eliminator, while a title shot (which would be his third fight against Johnson) may be premature without first giving #1 contender John Dodson another crack at the belt. Conversely, a win for Lineker could catapult him into contention for a title eliminator fight.

5 Thiago Alves: Can He Rejuvenate His Career?

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Starting his time with the UFC back in late 2005, Thiago Alves was one of the most dominant Welterweights for a number of years. Some of his victories have come over the likes of Chris Lytle, Matt Hughes, and Josh Koscheck. Between 2005 and 2008, he fought 11 times in the UFC, with a record of 9-2. In 2009, he earned a title shot against Georges St. Pierre, which he lost and since that year, he has gone 3-4, beating John Howard, Papy Abedi and Seth Baczynsk. Two of those fighters are basically UFC cannon fodder and Baczynski, who is 5-5 in the UFC.

Unfortunately, his competition is Jordan Mein, a younger Canadian striker, with a decent wrestling background, a history of brutalizing TKO victories, and a five inch reach advantage.

4 Miesha Tate vs Sara McMann: Who Will Win on the Ground?

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Looking to the women's Bantamweight division, Miesha Tate and Sara McMann are two of the sharpest, facing off in a battle that will probably end up on the ground. Both fighters are listed in the UFC's top five Bantamweight ladies, both have lost to Ronda Rousey, Tate via the all-too familiar armbar and McMann via that gnarly knee to the ribs.

Both are gifted wrestlers but McMann has a slight advantage on the ground. On the other hand, Miesha Tate may very well try to keep the fight from going there, due to her superior striking, which is actually slightly offset by McMann's two and a half inch reach advantage.

3 Can Nick Diaz Hold His Own At Middleweight?

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Diaz has fought at Welterweight for most of his career, with a brief three fight adventure into the Lightweight division. Upping his weight class puts him into a whole new ball game. Admittedly, Diaz has achieved great success in his career. With wins over fighters such as B.J. Penn and Robbie Lawler (along with over 20 more), he has had a great career. At 31, there is hope that he has some fight left in him.

Unfortunately, it will be tough to gauge his viability at Middleweight and it will take more than one fight. This is mainly because he is facing a man who can make Light Heavyweights look foolish, let alone a Welterweight who packed on a few. There is little chance, if any, that Diaz can win, but if he can make it into the third round, or even get a unanimous decision, that would be proof enough that he will not be a complete waste of time at Middleweight.

2 How Will Tyron Woodley Handle Kelvin Gastelum's System

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Kelvin Gastelum is one of the most intriguing new(ish) talents in the UFC. He won TUF 17 and recently dropped down a weight class, starting his career at Middleweight and making the move to Welterweight in late 2013. He is a practitioner of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, an American variant on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It isn't fundamentally different enough from regular BJJ to call it a completely different system by any means, but there are enough tweaks and innovations to throw some fighters for a loop.

Gastelum himself is an elusive wrestler who can throw, but it will be interesting to see if Tyron Woodley, an accomplished wrestler himself, takes the fight to the ground. Woodley has a three inch reach advantage which may be cause enough to try and stay on his feet. Woodley and Gastelum are both ranked in the top ten UFC Welterweights. Either one could easily earn a shot at the belt at some point in the future.

1 Will Anderson Silva Be His Old Self?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Spider hasn't fought in the ring in over a year. His last fight saw his gruesome broken leg after Chris Weidman checked a leg kick. The injury kept him out of competition since December 2013 and he missed several months of serious training. While he has had well over half a year with his leg fully healed, there are some considerations. Silva may be a warrior, but he's 39 years old, and two losses, culminating in a broken leg can shake anyone's confidence.

This is not to say that he won't have his power back, but losing that amount of time can take a toll on anyone. Obviously this is speculation, but it's easy to see how the time off could have long term impacts for the greatest ever. While his stamina, skill, speed, and power may be the same, he will always remember that kick that snapped his leg. It is entirely possible that it will be in the back of his mind every time he goes for a kick.

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Top 10 Things to Watch for at UFC 183