ONE Championship’s strawweight division is relatively new, but one of the top contenders has been around virtually since the promotion’s inception. Alex Silva fought on the organization’s second show and five years later he is emerging as a potential title challenger.
Life with Asia’s biggest MMA promotion did not get off to the best start for the Brazilian, who is competing on the card at ONE: Throne of Tigers this Friday. Silva dropped a decision to Geje Eustaquio at the start of 2012 in what was only his second MMA fight.
Eustaquio subsequently moved up to bantamweight, while Silva has dropped down a division, but the Brazilian refuses to cite size as an extenuating factor behind his first and only defeat.
“I think that defeat had more to do with my lack of experience at that time. Still, I thought I did well going three rounds and losing by unanimous decision.”
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Not only has Silva not lost since, he hasn’t even been the distance. The Brazilian has won three straight fights for ONE Championship with every single victory coming courtesy of a submission late in the opening round.
With the strawweight division still in its infancy, that three-fight winning streak makes him a top contender and he already has his sights set on reigning champion Yoshitaka Naito.
“That’s my goal and I’ll do whatever it takes to fight for the world title one day. All I can do is fight hard enough to earn that title shot, then it’s up to ONE Championship.”
Naito is undefeated and captured the belt by submitting Silva’s Evolve MMA teammate Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke. However, his greatest strength is his ground game and as a decorated BJJ black belt the Brazilian is entitled to feel he is at least good enough to compete with the champion in that department.
Silva declined to comment directly on Naito’s grappling ability instead reiterating the belief he has in his own skillset.
“We have similar skill sets, like grappling, but honestly, I don’t think too much about him. I’m confident in my own game that I don’t need to compare it to anyone else’s.”
In Kuala Lumpur on Friday, he will be taking on an opponent with a slightly different skillset. Roy Doliguez is a former strawweight title challenger and a veteran of over 40 boxing matches, who once knocked Fernando Montiel down during a world title fight in Mexico.
Silva has respect for his opponent’s striking, but believes he can win the fight by playing to his own personal strengths.
“He has a strong standing game, but I’m very confident that I can still beat him on the ground. I have far better grappling skills.”
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Dejdamrong holds a win over Doliguez. He beat him by fifth-round technical decision in a 2015 fight that had the inaugural ONE Championship strawweight title on the line.
Dejdamrong and Silva might be competing in the same division, but they are friends and training partners and Silva says he has been picking up some Muay Thai tips from the former champion.
“At Evolve MMA, I work on my striking with Muay Thai champions Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke and Yodkunsup Por Pongsawang. There are so many champions in the mix, I train every day to improve myself even if it’s only one percent a day.”
It is just under a year since Silva last fought, so he has had plenty of time to improve ahead of a match-up against a nine-fight Filipino veteran. The Brazilian is hoping to be busy in 2017 and has only one goal for the year.
“I want to win a world title in ONE and I know that I have the skills to reach that goal.”
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