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Claudio Silva: ‘Injuries are the only reason why I’m not in the top 5’

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Claudio Silva is unbeaten since his professional debut in 2007 and is riding a three-fight winning streak inside the Octagon, including wins over Leon Edwards and Nordine Taleb, so why isn’t he ranked among the best of the division?

“Hannibal” has a good explanation.

Ahead of his return versus Danny Roberts at Saturday’s UFC London, the Brazilian welterweight spoke with MMA Fighting and blamed several injuries as to why he’s not listed in the top 15 of the 170-pound weight class.

“I beat Leon Edwards and Nordine Taleb, beat a tough opponent in my UFC debut (Brad Scott), who lost to Robert Whittaker in the TUF final, and everybody knows that injuries are the only reason why I’m not in the top 5,” Silva said. “Injuries kept me sidelined, but I worked hard to get my body stronger to prevent that from happening again. It’s frustrating to train knowing that I’m one of the best in the division but having to stay out due to injuries, but everything will work now.”

Silva, who had to withdraw from UFC bouts with Neil Magny, Taleb, Siyar Bahadurzada and Ramazan Emeev due to multiple injuries since signing with the UFC in 2014, moved his last camp from London to Brazil to avoid England’s cold weather — and prevent injuries — ahead of UFC London, but missed being in the city he has called home for 12 years.

Fully healed from a “frustrating” lower back injury that kept him away from the gym — and out of a clash with Emeev in September — the jiu-jitsu specialist admits he expected to face a bigger profile opponent next instead of Roberts, who is 5-2 in the UFC.

“I thought they would give me someone tougher, with a bigger name, but it’s a fight and we can’t underestimate anyone,” Silva said. “I’m going there to do my job like if I was fighting for the belt. I’m a professional and fighting is my life. But I do hope my next fight is against a top 10. I’m sure that will happen, and I’m ready for anyone.”

For UFC London, Silva focused on developing his striking skills with Brazilian coach Alex Chadud. With seven of his 12 professional wins coming by way of submission, “Hannibal” wants a knockout at The O2 Arena.

“I see myself knocking him out,” Silva said. “There will be no going for takedowns this time. I will knock him out. I’ll surprise everyone. It doesn’t matter if he hasn’t been submitted in a while or not, I will knock him out.

“To break his soul I have to do what I’ve done against everyone, which is non-stop attack. That’s how you win a fight. There’s no slowing down. I’d rather die trying than think about the what ifs. Make him tired, that’s my style. Be aggressive the whole time until he doesn’t wanna be in there anymore.”

To avoid a streak of injuries and finally climb the rankings of a crowded welterweight division, Silva plans to enter the eight-sided cage three times in 2019. “I can’t wait to fight and win and prove I’m one of the… that I’m the best of this division,” he said. And his ideal scenario next? A UFC 237 clash with former interim champion Carlos Condit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on May 11.

“He’s a very aggressive fighter, it would be a good matchup. He’s one of the names I’d like to fight in the UFC,” Silva said. “It would be a dream to fight in Rio de Janeiro. I’ve beaten big names and deserve to fight in Rio. If they call me, I’m ready. I wouldn’t think twice. I’m a UFC employee and I guess I fight more in Europe because I live here, but if they call me, I’m in. I’ll fight anyone, anywhere.”

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