Alex Silva used his outstanding Muay Thai abilities to score a unanimous decision victory against Yoshitaka Naito and become the new ONE Championship strawweight champion at ONE: Warriors of the World.
The matchup between Silva and Naito was mostly expected to be a grappling-based affair in Bangkok, Thailand. Silva had previously used his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills to submit his last five opponents but kept the championship bout standing to become the first to defeat the Japanese martial artist.
After enjoying early success with his powerful leg kicks, Silva’s intentions to keep the fight standing were further solidified. He continued to hammer the lead leg of Naito with outside kicks that were expertly timed at the end of his combinations. The kicks repeatedly landed with such force to lift the leg of Naito from the mat.
When the two did engage in a grappling contest, it was mostly a stalemate. Naito often had the advantage of top position but was rarely able to strike with power or attempt submissions. Silva’s grappling experience was vital as he successfully defended Naito’s transition attempts and was able to quickly recover to improved positions when required.
Naito’s strength in the clinch and on the canvas was a major factor in the later rounds. Silva, who usually has tremendous success in sweeping his opponents and executing submissions, was unable to implement attacks against Naito. Instead, Naito resembled a somewhat immovable object in the last round and was narrowing the deficit on the scorecards.
By the end of the five rounds, however, Naito’s late dominance wasn’t enough to convince the judges and Silva was crowned the new ONE Championship strawweight champion.
In the post-fight interview, Silva declared:
“It feels like a dream. If this is a dream, please wake me up. I can’t believe I’m here. Hard work, works. It pays off. I want to say thank you to all the fans who came out to watch and support me.”
Silva also took the time to thank his teammates at Evolve MMA. In particular, Silva’s continued training with Dejdamrong “Kru Rong” Sor Amnuaysirichoke and Leandro “Brodinho” Issa has lifted him to greater heights as a striker and grappler.
“I want to thank everyone at Evolve. This is not only my belt guys, this is ours. Those guys smash me in the gym, making me stronger everyday. I can’t believe I’m here.”[srizonfbvidsingle id=1645210585502190]
Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.