With five consecutive submission victories, Alex Silva has earned himself a shot at Yoshitaka Naito and the ONE Strawweight World Championship this weekend at ONE: Warriors of the World in Bangkok, Thailand.
Silva will return to the ONE Championship cage just one month after submitting the previously undefeated Hayato Suzuki in 82 seconds at ONE: Legends of the World.
It was supposed to be a highly competitive matchup between two top contenders, but that didn’t stop Silva from scoring the fastest submission of his seven-fight career.
Suzuki rushed in with an impressive double-leg takedown that put Silva on his back within the opening moments of the contest in Manila, Philippines. But Silva, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black-belt for over ten years now, was always going to be comfortable operating on the mat.
“When I was on the bottom, I felt confident because this is my game,” Silva explained.
With a perfectly executed butterfly sweep from half guard, Silva reversed the position and momentarily landed in full mount. Instead of securing control of his opponent, Silva snatched the arm of Suzuki and forced the Japanese competitor to tap with an armbar.
Just the beginning
After winning the contest, Silva climbed the cage and expressed his desire for a title shot. The matchmakers clearly heard the plea from the Brazilian and scheduled Silva for a ONE Strawweight World Championship bout with Yoshitaka Naito at ONE: Warriors of the World.
When asked what challenging for the title means to him, Silva explained that this was just the beginning of what could be a long journey.
“It’s another step toward my dream and my goal,” Silva declared. “I need to get through one more fight. And after that fight, I need to protect my belt. For me, it’s just the beginning.”
Silva’s preparation is slightly easier knowing that Yoshitaka Naito fights with a relatively similar grappling-focused style to Hayato Suzuki.
Silva explains that he believes that the contest will be ‘kind of the same’, but also shared that he believes Naito may change his strategy after witnessing Silva’s fast submission at ONE: Legends of the World.
“I don’t know if Naito will want to take this fight down to the ground the same way that Hayato did. But he is a grappler, so I expect this fight to end up on the ground again. I am ready to fight. If he wants to take me down, I will fight him down on the ground, but I am confident in my striking as well.”
In this together
There’s little doubt that Silva’s opportunity to claim the ONE Strawweight World Championship means that much more to him and the team at Evolve considering that Naito was the one to take this same title from Silva’s teammate at Evolve MMA, Dejdamrong “Kru Rong” Sor Amnuaysirichoke in May 2015.
Dejdamrong, who is also competing at ONE: Warriors of the World, is on his own quest to reclaim the ONE Strawweight World Championship.
However, Silva explained that the two will likely never compete against each other, even if Dejdamrong is the clear #1 contender after his contest with Riku Shibuya this weekend.
“We are a strong team. We know that in life everyone has their time and opportunity. We try to push and help each other achieve our goals. We are happy, we are teammates.”
“Dejdamrong is my good friend and brother,” Silva explained.
“Actually, he is my inspiration. He’s going to be a part of this journey. He is going to be the champion. I was with him every day supporting him while he was the champion.”
Alex Silva will challenge Yoshitaka Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship at ONE: Warriors of the World in Bangkok, Thailand, on December 9.
Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.