ONE Strawweight World Champion Alex “Little Rock” Silva is getting ready to make his first title defense, and will do so against the very man he defeated for the belt.
The 35-year-old will defend the gold against Japanese grappler Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito in the main event of ONE: GRIT & GLORY, which takes place at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia on Saturday, 12 May.
Silva’s ascent to become the best strawweight in the world has been a remarkable one, and he believes a second victory over Naito will further cement his position as the division’s kingpin.
Before that titanic match-up, here is everything you need to know about the Brazilian martial artist.
#1 He Overcame The Odds To Succeed
Born several months premature, the Brazilian overcame the odds to survive, but things did not get easier, as he had to face the demons of bullying growing up due to his small stature. Luckily, he found martial arts, with his first experience coming via Bruce Lee films. Soon he took up a host of different classes, including kung fu and capoeira, to learn how to defend himself.
However, it was not until he was 13 that his life would change forever. Upon seeing for himself the effectiveness of Brazilian jiu-jitsu against larger and stronger opponents, “Little Rock” was hooked, and dedicated himself to his new passion. He went on to win numerous tournaments and competitions, including a gold medal at the Copa do Mundo World Championships, reaching the pinnacle of his grappling career.
He then transitioned his impeccable ground skills to the cage, and tore through the competition. Most impressively, he handed Yoshitaka Naito the first defeat of his professional career, dominating the Japanese powerhouse over five rounds to capture the ONE Strawweight World Championship.
#2 He Is A Proven Finisher
Since joining the promotion in February 2012, Silva’s submission skills have been there for all to see. Of his six victories so far under the ONE banner, five have come via submission, and he has demonstrated his grappling credentials each time he has set foot in the cage.
After losing a decision to future ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio in his promotional debut, “Little Rock” moved down a weight class, and ran through the strawweight division on a wave of five consecutive submission finishes.
Filipino brothers Rene, Ruel, and Robin Catalan were each dispatched by first-round submission in successive bouts. Then, he finished both former world title challenger Roy Doliguez and the previously-undefeated Hayato Suzuki by armbar to surge into world title contention last year.
#3 He Is A True Martial Artist
As well as being a world-class operator inside the ONE cage, Silva is also a classy individual outside of it.
The Singapore-based Brazilian is a humble man, a grounded individual, and a man of faith, who says he wants to become an inspiration to people through his endeavors as the ONE Strawweight World Champion.
“I believe that everybody, every athlete, has been inspired by someone,” he explained.
“I want people to appreciate me not just for my skill inside the cage. I want people to see me as a good human being, who worked hard for things, who believes in God in their life. I want people to see that if you do that, you can achieve your dreams.”
#4 He Always Strives To Improve
Silva’s reputation is one of a BJJ world champion with elite submission skills, but since moving from Brazil to Singapore to join Evolve MMA, he has worked tirelessly on his striking to become a truly well-rounded martial artist.
Now equipped with fast hands and quick feet, as well as his world-class grappling, Silva is anything but a one-trick pony. He demonstrated that fact in the biggest match of his career last December, where he used his striking skills to outpoint Naito and capture ONE gold.
Having showcased his striking prowess at highest level possible, Silva is working hard to further improve that aspect of his game. Also, he continues to fine-tune his already immaculate grappling for the martial arts arena. Put simply, he is only going to get better.
#5 He Is Determined To Make History
For Silva, winning the ONE Strawweight World Championship is only the start. Being the world champion is not enough for “Little Rock.” In fact, he wants to be the best to ever hold the belt.
“My goal is to be a legend of this division. I do not want to just be the world champion, I want to be the best ever in this division,” he said.
“I work hard, I have the discipline, and I have everything on my side to do it. I have a good team around me, I have the dedication, I have the skills, and I am hungry. So that is my new goal, to become the best athlete to ever compete in this division.”
Look out for the Brazilian, as he begins to build his legacy at ONE: GRIT & GLORY.