ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex Silva from the Evolve Fight Team will be taking on challenger Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito of Japan in a highly-anticipated rematch that should be just as exciting as their first encounter months ago. The pair is set to lock horns in the main event of ONE: Grit and Glory, set for 12 May at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia.
Silva first met Naito last December in Thailand. The 35-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion was coming off five straight victories and taking on an unbeaten Japanese champion who had a knack for dominating opponents with his wrestling.
Despite Naito’s world-class pedigree, however, Silva turned in the performance of a lifetime, earning himself his most impressive victory yet and the ONE Strawweight World Championship belt in the process.
Silva is certainly poised for a repeat performance when he faces off with Naito once again this weekend, and the veteran grappler says he is looking to finish matters within the distance this time around.
Before he steps back into the ONE Championship cage this Saturday night in Jakarta, let’s take a step back and admire Little Rock’s best displays of skill and will. Today, Evolve Daily shares Alex Silva’s top three performances inside the ONE Championship cage, leading up to his first title defense at ONE: Grit and Glory.
1) A Triumphant Return Against Ruel Catalan
After a couple of years on the sideline, Silva returned to action in Manila against Filipino wushu champion Ruel Catalan. The Brazilian dynamo showed absolutely no rust whatsoever, as he authored a scintillating first-round submission, forcing Catalan to tap from a wrenching knee bar. “Little Rock” appeared determined to send a message to the rest of the division and was sharp all throughout.
He decoded Catalan’s unique striking style, closing the distance to lock in the clinch almost effortlessly. Within a couple of scrambles against the cage fence, Silva was able to draw Catalan to the mat with his grappling. Once on the ground, it was only a matter of time for the submissions wizard to pull off yet another amazing finish.
It was a tremendous performance from Silva, who was quickly gaining momentum as one of the top talents at strawweight. Silva would go on to defeat another Catalan in his next bout, before taking on former ONE world title challenger Roy Doliguez — both of whom he finished by submission.
When Silva gets a hold of any of an opponent’s limbs, victory is all but guaranteed. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion owns a 3rd degree black belt and has over 15 years of experience winning regional and national titles in his native Brazil.
2) Quick Finish of Hayato Suzuki
In November of 2017, once again at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, Silva took on Japanese grappler Hayato Suzuki with the possibility of a shot at the ONE Strawweight World Championship on the line. Suzuki was a highly-regarded new entrant in ONE Championship and was unbeaten at 17 wins and no losses.
Silva himself was riding high on a four-fight winning streak, having just defeated former title challenger Roy Doliguez via third-round armbar. Suzuki had just scored a scintillating first-round submission over the well-touted Joshua Pacio in his promotional debut, so a lot of the hype was on Suzuki who was looking to book a date with countryman Yoshitaka Naito.
But the Brazilian had other plans and wanted to make a case for himself as a worthy challenger to the strawweight throne.
When two elite world-class grapplers meet at the center of the cage, you already know fans are in for a technical treat. However, Silva would make very quick work of Suzuki, shocking the Japanese stalwart with a rapid-fire first-round armbar submission.
Beginning the contest, both fighters would take a minute to size each other up. But it was Suzuki who would engage first, shooting for a takedown. If bringing a BJJ maestro like Silva to the ground was Suzuki’s game plan, it certainly turned out to be ill-advised. Within moments, Silva flung Suzuki into the air effortlessly and transitioned into a figure-four armbar.
Matters were over in a flash, and Silva marched forward to an eventual title shot against Naito.
3) Total Domination of Yoshitaka Naito
In what has been Silva’s most impressive victory to date, a one-sided annihilation of Japanese standout and former champion Yoshitaka Naito sits atop the Brazilian’s best performances.
Riding high off his victory over Hayato Suzuki just months prior, Silva would earn himself a shot at the coveted ONE Strawweight World Championship.
Instead of taking matters to the ground like he did with previous opponents, Silva instead opted to strike with Naito, pushing the former champion to his limits.
Silva peppered Naito with pinpoint combinations that were not only accurate but also incredibly powerful. Throughout the bout, Silva was a step ahead of Naito at all times. Whenever Naito would try to close the gap with a takedown, Silva was there to crack him with a powerful shot.
Given that both men were tremendous grapplers, it came as a complete shock to the crowd which packed the Impact Arena in Bangkok that the entire fight never really hit the ground. Instead, Silva proved that he was not a one-dimensional fighter, unveiling a new dynamic to his skill set — his world-class striking.