Nick Diaz. Screenshot.

Expect a different Nick Diaz.

That’s the message Diaz’s friend and training partner, Joe Schilling, has sent to Anderson Silva before the two collide this Saturday night.

Schilling, who is one of 3 standout kickboxers hired by Diaz (26-9 MMA, 7-6 UFC) in preparation for his clash with Silva (33-6 MMA, 16-2 UFC), says the strike-heavy camp has prepared the Stockton native for anything ‘the Spider’ can throw at him.

“It’s a different Nick Diaz now,” Schilling said. “He’s definitely a little bit bigger, he hits a lot harder than I remember him hitting me back then. Anderson can win this fight if he catches Nick with something he doesn’t see. But in this training camp he’s been with the three best Kickboxers available, and I don’t think he’s going to be surprised by anything.”

The other two Diaz has been training with are current WMC Thai Boxing champion Artem Levin, and Chidi Njokuani; another elite Muay Thai kickboxer: “I was sparring with him and bringing in sparring partners to help him work on his kickboxing. He was sparring with three of the best kickboxers in the world: the No. 1 and No. 2 middleweight kickboxers in GLORY (Artem Levin and myself), and we also brought in Chidi Njokuani, who is a really, really good muay Thai fighter, and is also good in MMA.”

Schilling firmly believes this optimum preparation could turn the tide in Diaz’s favour.

He also said whilst Silva – widely regarded as mixed martial arts’ greatest ever fighter– is a good MMA striker, in comparison to the world’s premier Kickboxers he believes he’s pretty ordinary: “I’m personally not that impressed with Anderson Silva. Don’t get me wrong; he’s a fantastic MMA fighter. I’m just looking at it from a striking perspective given my background. Looking at Silva, I don’t see an elite level striker.”

Fans will have to wait until Saturday to see whether Schilling’s assessments are correct, or if his friendship with Diaz and personal bias is swaying his opinion. But either way his comments have added yet more excitement to an already tantalising encounter.