Anderson Silva Returns But Questions Remain

Anderson Silva made his return on Saturday night defeating Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 183. It was ‘The Spider’s’ first fight since his gruesome 2013 leg injury incurred in a loss to Chris Weidman. Silva broke his left fibula and tibia but a less refined diagnosis was ‘he broke his leg in half’. There was speculation that Silva would retire from the sport—and many fans, media and fighters thought that was the smart move. But after surgery and a long recovery there he was this past weekend inside the UFC octagon. For those who missed betting on UFC, stay tuned for UFC 184.

So now what? Silva left as many questions as answers in his UFC 183 performance. He left as many questions as answers in the wake of the bout. The fight was much closer than the unanimous decision win would suggest. Silva fanboys (including, sadly, much of the MMA media) would chortle that the ‘Spider is back’ and demand an immediate middleweight championship rematch with Weidman. Anti-hero Diaz’s surprisingly large legion of fans screamed ‘robbery’. More objective observers saw a close, tactical and tough to judge matchup.

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UFC Fight Night 25 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC Fight Night 25 takes place on Saturday night from New Orleans with a solid card of four free fights.

Here is a look at which fighters I like on Saturday, and why.

UFC Welterweight Bout – Jake Shields (26-5-1) vs. Jake Ellenberger (25-5) – Shields is coming off the loss of his father, which may affect his performance, but I think this is his fight to lose. Ellenberger is a rising star and clearly the better striker, but he is taking a big step up in competition. I see Shields being able to work in his takedowns and grappling control to earn a tough decision victory.

UFC Middleweight Bout – Court McGee (12-1) vs. Dongi Yang (10-1) – This is a classic striker vs. grappler match up, and I like the grappler to prevail. Yang has big punching power, but I see McGee getting this fight up against the cage where Yang will be neutralized. From there, look for McGee to grind out a few takedowns and eventually secure a choke in the later rounds.

UFC Featherweight Bout – Jonathan Brookins (13-3) vs. Erik Koch (12-1) – Koch is considered the favorite according to the oddsmakers, but my pick goes with Brookins. He needs a lot of work in his striking, but his grappling takes a back seat to nobody in the division. I see Brookins taking a few punches early, but eventually getting inside Koch and using a judo throw or roll to get the fight to the ground. From there, I expect Brookins to work in a choke to get the win.

UFC Middleweight Bout – Alan Belcher (15-5) vs. Jason MacDonald (26-14) – Belcher makes his return after more than a year off and he has a lot to fight for. He was a rising star in the division prior to his eye injury and he should have the skills to get past MacDonald, who is somewhat one dimensional, with a great submission skill set. Look for Belcher to pick apart MacDonald on his feet and avoid the ground game as he gets a decision win.

  

UFC Fight Night 25 Betting Odds – Shields Favored

nullUFC Fight Night 25 – Battle on the Bayou takes place this Saturday night on Spike TV and features a solid card for a free MMA event.

When looking at the betting odds for this card, Jake Shields finds himself as the favorite against Jake Ellenberger in the main event of Saturday’s event. Shields has a money line of -185 while Ellenberger comes in at +155. This is a pretty classic striker vs. grappler matchup. Shields has the experience and grappling edge while Ellenberger is the better striker and has more to gain in this contest. It should be an explosive fight that will pave the way for the winner to become a top 5 contender.

Alan Belcher makes his return to the UFC after more than a year away due to a career-threatening eye injury. Belcher will face off with UFC veteran, Jason MacDonald in a middleweight bout. The local hero, Belcher, is the favorite in the fight with odds of -275. MacDonald comes in with a money line of +215. Belcher is a guy that enjoys using his striking and clinch game to beat up opponents. MacDonald is more of a submission specialist that will want to get the fight down to the ground.

In other featured bouts, Jonathan Brookins (+165) opens as an underdog to Erik Koch (-205) in his first fight since winning The Ultimate Fighter last December. Another TUF winner, Court McGee (-165) opens as a favorite in his contest with Dongi Yang (+135).