Claudio Silva (13-1) believes that up until this point, he has mostly flown under the radar in the UFC but he intends for that to change after Saturday. Since dropping his MMA debut in 2007 via a disqualification, Silva hasn’t tasted defeat and has come out victorious in his following 13 fights. One of those wins was against current, number four ranked welterweight, Leon Edwards, whose only other loss in the UFC came at the hands of current title holder, Kamaru Usman, which shows what he is capable off if he puts all of his skills together (even if that was Edward’s debut in the company).
Silva will look to make it five straight in the world’s leading MMA promotion when he takes on UFC debutant, Cole Williams (11-1), at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey during the preliminary card.
The 36-year-old last competed in March when he emerged victorious against Danny Roberts when the UFC made their annual stop in London. Despite being known mostly for his ground skills, Silva opened the contest by landing a number of successful kicks and looked to move forwards and land single strikes. He successfully took Roberts down with a trip before transitioning between a number of dominant ground positions. This was mostly the same story during round two as Silva further displayed his grappling superiority to take mount on a couple of occasions.
In the final frame, a powerful overhand left was landed by Roberts which clearly hurt Silva but in a case of questionable fight IQ, Roberts followed his opponent down to the ground. From there, Roberts landed some big strikes from top position but his momentum was brought to a halt when Silva threw up an armbar and Roberts was deemed to have given a verbal submission. Silva was pleased with that performance and believes he proved to the fans that when things aren’t going his way, he has the mental strength to persevere and change the course of a fight.
“I was pleased with my performance last March,” said Silva. “Towards the start of the fight, I was in control but I began to get tired as the contest wore on and that was when he caught me in the third. He only had success against me on the feet in the last round but apart from that, I believe I totally dominated the bout. Some guys look great when they are beating people up but when they face adversity, they just quit. I showed lots of heart and pushed through difficult situations until I locked up the armbar. He screamed when it was fully in place so the referee had no option but to stop the fight.”
Silva has finished 8 of his 13 professional victories by submission, many of which have come inside the first round. This shows how wary all of his opponents need to be if they are under his control on the mat. However, in the first and second rounds of the Roberts fight, Silva appeared to be extremely close to sinking in an arm triangle twice but both times he was thwarted by Roberts rolling and ending up on top in almost identical sequences. Even though he was disappointed to not finish the fight earlier in both of those positions, he believes he has made the necessary changes to not let future opponents off of the hook.
“I was very close to finishing with an arm triangle during the first two rounds but I wasn’t able to get it completely sunk,” explained Silva. “Leading up to that fight, I wasn’t training BJJ as much as I should have because I was focusing more on my striking. I didn’t quite have the correct technique to pull off that submission but I’ve made lots of adjustments now so I’m ready to finish anyone with that arm triangle.”
The BJJ black belt was born in Brazil and grew up there during his early years which is where he began grappling for the first time. Many fighters out of South America often talk about hardships they faced when getting older but that wasn’t the case for Silva. He was a normal Brazilian child who could always be found training and dreamed about making it to the UFC so he could lead a happy and fulfilling life.
As he got older, Silva moved to live with his aunt in Italy which was his initial taste of what life in Europe was like. During that time, someone invited Silva to go and live in London while helping out at a BJJ academy and he hasn’t looked back since. He learnt English, fell in love with the city and then decided that it was where he wanted to settle down. Silva still lives there today and refers to himself as a ‘Britishzilian’ to demonstrate that he represents both countries when he competes. However, he has moved further afield to America in preparation for his upcoming fight.
“I am training at ATT now which is my new team,” announced Silva. “I’m going to do all of my camps there for the foreseeable future. It was always a dream of mine to represent them so I’m pleased to take this next step in my journey. I’m really fortunate to learn from all of the great fighters there and the coaches are amazing so I’m developing everyday. I feel great going into this next contest!”
Despite making his UFC debut in 2014, Silva has only competed inside of the octagon four times. This is due to a three and a half year layoff he had in the middle of his run with the promotion due to a number of serious injuries he sustained. He feels as though this has really halted his momentum in the welterweight division but he is healthy and in great condition for Saturday. Silva disclosed that he had never been injury free during preparations for a fight until this camp which he puts down to training smarter. He believes this will show in his performance and he is eager to display his full skillset to the fans and UFC brass in his US debut.
Silva was originally scheduled to fight Ramazan Emeev in Newark, a bout which was rebooked from last September, but the Russian couldn’t compete due to alleged visa issues. He was replaced by Cole Williams, whose current nine fight winning streak earned him a shot in the UFC. The American has finished 8 of his 11 wins and will be looking to continue the form which caught the matchmakers’ attention. Silva doesn’t believe that the change in opponent will affect him as he sees a number of common traits between Emeev and Williams.
“Both guys have similar styles as they can grapple but exchange on the feet too,” discussed Silva. “I expect a great fight because if you are in the UFC you have to be a top fighter. On Saturday, I believe I will get the win and finish him in the process to continue my ascent in the weight class towards my dream of the title. I’m not here just to be another guy in the division; I’m here to be the champion!”
UFC Fight Night: Covington vs. Lawler prelims are being shown on ESPN at 12pm ET in the US and at 5pm BST on BT Sport 2 for viewers in the UK/Ireland.