This battle of former ONE Strawweight World Champions inside the Singapore Indoor Stadium could play a major role in deciding who might challenge Joshua “The Passion” Pacio for the belt later in 2019.
It was a stunning shutdown of the division’s reigning number one at the time, and established the Brazilian as the world’s foremost athlete in the weight class.
However, he lost his gold in a split decision in their rematch, as Naito evened the score. Now, “Little Rock” is determined to claim victory in the rubber match and put his heartbreak behind him.
“This is a small challenge compared to what I’ve had to go through,” says the 36-year-old.
“Life is like that. You can’t always be on top. Sometimes you hit a low point before you rise back up again. Every time you go down, you know that there’s nowhere to go but up.”
“Like everybody, I’ve tasted many defeats in my life, but I always take it like a champ, take it like a man, stand up, and go again. There’s no other way.”
This trilogy bout will have a different complexion to the first two contests between Silva and Naito. Previously, they have battled for five rounds, but this time, their encounter will be set for just three.
That is a dynamic that could favor “Little Rock.” The Evolve representative did his best work against “Nobita” when he set a high pace and implemented a striking game plan in the first bout.
The only caveat was that he faded in the later rounds, but without those to worry about on 17 May, a similar approach could reap huge rewards.
Silva’s strategy sounds like it could follow that blueprint.
“I prepared very well for every situation. We’ve faced each other twice already, so we both know what to expect from each other,” he says.
“I’m humble, but I feel like I have a lot more skills than him, as I can strike, grapple, and everything. I just need to face his takedowns because he likes to take down and hold. He doesn’t go for strikes or submissions, he just holds. I need to stop him.
“It is going to be important for me to win my next bout as it is the first step on my quest to reclaim my belt.”
Despite the result of his last contest against Naito, Silva is supremely confident he will win the series.
The Copa de Mundo BJJ World Champion has spent almost five months at Evolve in Singapore preparing for his return to action, and he guarantees his fans in “The Lion City” will go home happy on 17 May.
“I’m definitely going to get the win – that’s 100 percent sure to happen,” he says.
“I don’t know how it’s going to end, I believe only God knows how it will exactly turn out, but all I know is that it’s going to end well for my side.”
Along with winning in Singapore, one of Silva’s longstanding ambitions in The Home Of Martial Arts is to move up a weight class and test his skills in the talent-stacked flyweight division.
There are many intriguing match-ups for “Little Rock” there, including a rematch with former World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, or a contest against one of the elite contenders from the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix.
However, the Brazilian says he has put those plans on hold until he gets back to where he believes he belongs at strawweight.
“I always had [moving up to flyweight] in mind, but I think I need to do things step by step,” he adds.
“When I got the World Title, it was my plan to defend it a few times before looking for a new challenge up in flyweight. However, right now, I need to get back my World Title first. I can’t just step out without proving I’m the best in my division.”