Former strawweight champion Alex Silva will be looking to recapture the belt at ONE: ‘Fire & Fury’ on Friday. Since winning the title the Brazilian has suffered a disappointing run of results.

The Brazilian lost three fights in a row, dropping two decisions to Yoshitaka Naito and one to Yosuke Saruta. However he believes these setbacks only made him stronger,

“It was a bad time from 2018 to 2019, but everyone faces difficulties inside and outside of the cage. I am very thankful for all the difficulties, the pain, and the sacrifices. They have made me stronger, and I believe God has prepared me for this moment, so I am going to do my best.”

The good news for Silva is that he finished 2019 on a high, submitting Xuewen Peng and Stefer Rahardian with second round armbars. The back to back wins were enough to secure him a second shot at the title.

Top contenders

He faces reigning champion Joshua Pacio in Manila. Silva has been on the scene since 2012 but in recent years both men have been among the best in the strawweight division and it’s surprising their paths didn’t cross sooner.

They have several opponents in common and Silva says this is exactly the sort of fight he needs to keep him motivated art the age of 37,

“I’m always looking forward to getting back to the top. I believe Joshua and I have faced most of the top guys in the division, so I’m really happy about this match-up.”

Silva holds a BJJ black belt while Pacio has the familiar Team Lakay style. Back in 2012 the Brazilian dropped a decision to Geje Eustaquio and knows his grappling credentials won’t automatically be enough earn him the win.

“This will be a difficult fight for both of us. I will need to use all my skills, not just my grappling or striking. I need to mix everything up in order to win.”

Big difference

However Silva does believe he will be at a big advantage if the fight goes to the floor,

“I believe my BJJ will make a big difference, and I have more than 20 years of experience in martial arts and training. This will be an advantage,” he said.

He came into his first title shot as an underdog. Naito was an undefeated champion with 12 wins in a row and a perfect professional record.

Silva upset the odds to beat him decisively. He comes into this fight as an underdog too having lost three of his previous five fights.

It is a situation Silva thinks could favour him and he has looked into his crystal ball and likes what he saw,

“There will be more pressure for him because he will be fighting in his hometown and defending the belt. I have seen the outcome, the gold on my waist.”