Alex Silva feels he was wronged. After a dominant opening to his last fight against Indonesian martial artist Adrian Mattheis, a controversial second round stoppage ended his hopes of victory. While the BJJ expert isn’t contesting the loss, it’s certainly motivated his training ahead of his rematch. “It’s gonna happen to you in this sport,” Silva said of the defeat in a recent interview with Bloody Elbow. “But that was the first time it happened to me.”
Silva, 39, and Mattheis are set to face off again this Friday at ONE Championship: 158 in Kallang, Singapore. First meeting Mattheis back at ONE Championship: Lights Out just three months ago, Silva entered the fight hoping to extend his two-fight winning streak. A former strawweight champion in the promotion, he utilized his world-class grappling experience to control Mattheis and threaten multiple submissions in round one. “I should have been more aggressive,” Silva said, “I was trying to control him because he was very explosive in the scramble, and wait for my opportunity to apply the submission.”
Mattheis was forced to defend a deep north south choke and a brief heel hook attempt from the Brazilian, but Silva was unable to get the tap before Mattheis escaped. “The north south choke was tight, but after the first few minutes he became very slippery with sweat,” Silva said. Seconds into round two, Mattheis rocked Silva with a right cross and sent him tumbling to the mat. Silva ate a hammer fist off his back, but quickly rolled to his knees looking for a takedown. Unfortunately for him, the referee stepped in to end the fight at the five second mark.
A visibly disappointed Silva shared words with the official, even banging out some push ups to showcase his lack of injury. “If you watch the fight, you can see what happened,” Silva said. “It was a bad stoppage by the ref.”
Often taking as much as a year off between bouts, Silva jumped at the chance to quickly rectify what he and many in the MMA community see as an erroneous result. “I was happy to get the chance to fight again quickly,” Silva said. Sticking with the same training blueprint, Silvia aims to utilize more aggressive grappling for the rematch. “I’m confident that if I get him on the ground again, I can finish him,” he said.
Looking beyond Friday, Silva may decide to partake in a grappling match on a ONE card. A black belt for over a decade, Silva’s first exposure to the gentle art came the same as many others in the 90’s.
“I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but my friend who I surf with came to me and said, ‘I have to show you some fight,’ and he had a VHS tape with him. I loved Bruce Lee and Van Damme movies, so I expected something like that. But he said this was a real fight, and I saw the first UFC with Royce Gracie. I thought, ‘Oh, that small Brazilian guy is gonna get smashed really bad!’ But then he dominated all the larger guys,” Silva said. Taken with the display, Silva threw on a gi and began training and competing under the nearby school, Liga Jiu-Jitsu. He went on to win a Copa de Mundo World Championship, and feeling it was time to try a new sport, relocated with his family to Singapore in 2011 to train at Evolve MMA.
Both as a teammate and grappling coach, Silva now has the luxury of training with some of the best fighters in the world at Evolve. “It’s a blessing. All my idols become like my friends, we can talk and go out to dinner. They give so much to me during training, they want to see me shine. But the name doesn’t matter; whether you have someone like Buchecha or [Mikey] Musumeci or whatever, it doesn’t matter. They all want to help you improve,” Silva said. Surrounded by BJJ royalty on a daily basis, Silva expressed a hesitant desire to take off the gloves and compete in a ONE grappling match.
“I still feel like I can compete with those guys,” Silva said. “But we’re so focused on MMA with two to three sessions per day. It’s hard to mix grappling and MMA. I think it would take three months of just BJJ training to compete with these ninja kids. The kids competing now are unbelievable!”
Silva will face Mattheis on the lead card of ONE Championship: 158 this Friday, June 3. The card is set to be headlined by a 155 lb lightweight muay thai bout between top-ranked Tawanchai P.K. Saenchai and former Glory kickboxing talent Niclas Larsen.