How Alex Silva's Skills Took Him To The Top Of Two Sports
Alex “Little Rock” Silva is one of the elite few athletes who has claimed the top prize in mixed martial arts – a ONE World Title.
However, his defeat of Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito at ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD last December was not the first time he had reached the pinnacle of a sport.
The Brazilian star’s capture of the ONE Strawweight World Title added to the Copa do Mundo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world title he claimed nine years earlier.
How slick is this Alex Silva armbar?! ????
How slick is this Alex Silva armbar?! ????Kuala Lumpur | 7 December | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedestiny18
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Silva fell in love with martial arts when he saw one of his countrymen showcase the effectiveness of BJJ to the world.
“I started BJJ after I watched Royce Gracie compete in America,” he explained.
“I always liked martial arts, but the first time I saw him using BJJ to beat everyone in that tournament, it sparked my love for jiu-jitsu, and that love has never stopped.”
Bitten by the martial arts bug, Silva found a local gym and started training BJJ. In 1999 he started to enter competitions. Nine years later, he was a world champion.
“When I started to compete, my goal was always to get the BJJ world title,” he explains.
“That was my goal. That was my dream. I was determined to eventually go all the way. I always worked hard, believed in myself, and believed that I would one day win the world championship.”
Silva made it to the world championship finals on multiple occasions, only to lose out. But that only made “Little Rock” more determined to achieve his dream.
Mark your calendars! Former ONE World Champion Alex Silva will be in action on 7 December ????
Mark your calendars! Former ONE World Champion Alex Silva will be in action on 7 December ????Kuala Lumpur | 7 December | 6:30PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onedestiny18
Posted by ONE Championship on Tuesday, November 27, 2018
“A few years before, I’d reached third place in the world championships, then second place,” he recalls.
“I’d come so close to winning I knew that one day I was going to get first place and actually win the world championship.”
Silva worked tirelessly in the gym to sharpen his skills ahead of the 2008 championships, where he faced a one-day test of everything he had learned on the mats since he first put on a gi as a teenager.
“The whole tournament took place over one weekend, but each weight division has its tournament conducted over just one day,” he explains.
“I competed in five matches in one afternoon, with the fifth one being the final itself.”
Despite progressing through to the title match, Silva had to battle a crisis of confidence when he got there.
However, he overcame his negative thoughts and submitted his opponent to win the tournament.
“In the final, I was losing on points, and I started doubting myself, thinking, ‘It looks like I’m going to finish in second place again,'” he says.
“But at that moment, I decided that I couldn’t wait for another whole year before trying to win the championship, so I just went for it and tried everything, and I was eventually able to win the match by choke. It was a lapel choke from side control.
“I worked really hard to get to that level, and I worked so hard to win that world championship.”
Once he captured that title, his thoughts soon turned to mixed martial arts, though initially, he only looked at the discipline as a fun addition to his regular training in BJJ.
That all changed when he received an invitation to join his friend Leandro “Brodinho” Issa at Evolve in Singapore, where he would launch his career in ONE.
“I always liked mixed martial arts, but by the time I felt like I was interested, I felt like I was so far away from being able to compete,” he adds.
“I competed in some amateur shows to have fun.”
“When I got to Singapore and got started at Evolve, I said, ‘Okay. Now I have the opportunity to start mixed martial arts and be a professional.'”
Though he lost his first bout in The Home Of Martial Arts to future ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, Silva soon found his feet and embarked on a winning run that took him all the way to the top.
His competitive experience as a BJJ world champion has stood him in good stead, but that alone would only take him so far. He also believes he has adapted so well because of his ability to stay calm under pressure.
The reason for his ice-cold temperament? He loves what he does.
“Of course every time when you compete you have some feelings of adrenaline, but I never feel like I’m nervous because this is what I love to do,” he says.
“I’m enjoying myself when I’m doing this. I just have this normal feeling. I don’t get really nervous. I have a little adrenaline, and I’ve learned to control that.”
His temperament, BJJ, and an ever-improving set of Muay Thai skills saw Silva capture gold in the cage when he outworked Naito over five rounds.
He admits that while the BJJ world title was a dream of his since his teenage years, winning the ONE Strawweight World Championship is by far the biggest accomplishment of his athletic career so far.
“The ONE Championship title is much bigger,” he says.
“Even though I love BJJ, mixed martial arts is much more of a global sport, so winning the ONE Strawweight World Championship was a much bigger achievement. It’s much more mainstream.”
Unfortunately for “Little Rock,” he went on to lose the belt in his next bout – a rematch with “Nobita” – via split decision. That rivalry looks destined to continue, but for now, the Brazilian’s focus is on winning his way to a date with the new strawweight king, Joshua “The Passion” Pacio.
That quest begins with on 7 December at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Silva will face Shooto Strawweight World Champion Yosuke “Tobizaru” Saruta on the ONE: DESTINY OF CHAMPIONS main card. A win against such an accomplished opponent could give him platform he needs to prove he deserves the chance to get his hands on the gold again.