FanHouse spoke to Silva, who is 5-1 in his career, about his unique road to the UFC and how he plans on preparing for Dollaway. The full interview is below.
Ariel Helwani: How did you get into MMA?
Jay Silva: I used to be a bouncer in New York and I used to get into fights all the time. I met this guy, who was part of Renzo Gracie's family, and he used to bounce with me. He always used to tell me to come train with them jiu-jitsu. One day I saw The Ultimate Fighter 1, and I thought, Man, I can do that; I can kick those guys a**. So I decided to go down there and start training. Next thing I know, I was fighting.
Why did you decide to leave New York for Los Angeles?
Because I met "Rampage" and he moved me here.
Where did you met Rampage?
I met Rampage at UFC 78. He sat in front of me and his best friend sat next to me. I always liked Rampage, and was like, Wow, I can't believe it's Rampage Jackson. I was a big fan of his, so I went and asked for a picture. So "Rampage" looked at me like he didn't really want to take the picture and was like, 'Oh, ok.' And I hated him for that. I was like, Who does this guy think he is? There were a lot of people asking to take pictures and he was trying to pay attention to the fights, but I didn't understand that.
Then I was sitting next to his friend -- I didn't know it was his friend -- and we were taking bets on the fight, and he was like, 'Are you from here?' And I was like, 'Yeah.' And he said, 'Oh, man, I want to go out tonight. Do you know any spots?' And I said, 'Yeah, I work as a bouncer in New York, so I know all the spots. Where do you want to go?' He said, 'Take me out,' and I said, 'OK.' We switched numbers, and next thing I know, he calls me a half an hour later and says, 'Hey, is it alright if I bring some friends?' I didn't know he was bringing Rampage. Next thing I know, he showed up with Rampage, Dan Henderson, Jason "Mayhem" Miller. When Rampage came out of the car, he gave me a big hug, and I thought, this guy is weird. But that's it. When we got into the club, we started talking and got along really good, and he was like, 'Come down to train with me. I'm always down to train with new people.' Next thing I knew, he called me to come train with him in California. So I went there, we got along good, and next thing I knew we were like best friends. He then asked me to move to California, and here I am.
What do you make of Jackson agreeing to appear in the new A-Team movie, thus postponing his fight against Rashad Evans?
I think it's good for him, man. I'm really happy for him. He's doing what he likes to do; he's passionate about movies. He always wanted to do movies.
Some people believe that fighters should be fighters and actors should be actors ...
Because they're not fighters. When they get in the cage and fight and see how hard it is, or train every day and see how hard it is, then they'll change their mind. You've got NBA players who want to be singers and rappers who want to be athletes. And now you've got MMA fighters who want to be movie stars. Ain't nothing wrong with that.
So how did this new deal with the UFC come about?
Man, [his agent] Kenny [Pavia] got it. I went to spend the weekend in New York, and next thing I know Kenny called me and said, 'I got great news for you.' I was like, 'Yeah, OK, what is it?' And he just told me I was going to be fighting in UFC. I didn't believe it. I said I was only going to believe it when I signed the contract. I just went to sign the contract, and I still don't believe it. I just worked so hard to get here and I am finally here. I'm just going to believe it when I'm in there, in the Octagon, on TV. That's when I'm really going to believe it.
Is there a part of you who wishes you could have more time to train for your UFC debut?
Yeah. I wish I had more time to show my skills, but I fought on Aug. 15 at "Call to Arms," so I'm still in pretty good shape. I could have been in better shape because I took some time off, but I'm going back to training right now. Before that, Cheick Kongo, who's right here, he's like my big brother, we're always training together. We're not training hardcore, but we're training. I don't care. A fight for me is a fight. The worst case scenario is getting knocked out -- that's all. I don't think he's going to win anyway. I wish I had more time, but sometimes it doesn't happen that way.
Did you expect to get a shot in the UFC this early in your career?
I've been working at that for a long time, but I don't know. Honestly, I don't know.
Would you have rather had a few more fights under your belt before getting the call from the UFC?
Man, I think I'm ready right now. I know I can be a really good fighter. You guys ain't see nothing yet. But I know I'm ready for the UFC because this is what every MMA fighter is working for.
Dollaway lost his last fight in 55 seconds. Are you expecting to face a desperate fighter next week because if he loses he might be on his way out of the UFC?
Yeah. I feel sorry for him because I know he's going to lose. I think CB is a great fighter, man. I don't know CB, and if you're not a fighter that I like, I don't watch your fights. And CB is not one of the fighters that I look up to, so I've never seen his fights. I've seen a little glimpse of his fights when they're on TV, but he's not one of the guys that I pay attention to see how they fight. And even now that I know I'm going to fight him, I never do research on my opponents because I want to go out there and fight my fight. If you learn too much about your opponent your going to be worried about what you are going to do to defend yourself. I don't want to think about him and I just want to fight my fight. ... For me, there are two ways [this fight can end]: I'm getting knocked out or he's getting knocked out. But we're not going to go to a decision. I never liked going to a decision and I don't plan on going now. So hopefully I will knock him out.
Why wouldn't you want to watch tape on your opponent? I can't understand how that would do more harm than good for you.
I let my coaches do that, and even when they do that, I don't want them to tell me. They're going to train me according to my opponent. If I see my opponent fight, I'm going to start thinking about what I'm going to do. ... So might as well not pay attention to what he is going to do and just go out there and do what you want to do.
What will you do to prepare for this fight considering it's just a week away?
Basically, I'm going to do whatever I do for all my fights. I'm doing more strength and conditioning for this fight because it's short notice and I know he has been training for a long, so he's in good shape. I just want to make sure I'm in really good shape, too. So basically, I want to focus more on strength and conditioning and just be ready for the fight. I don't want to gas in the fight or give people any excuse. I want people to see the real Jay Silva. Otherwise it's going to be messed up because you're not going to have the chance to see the real Jay Silva because it's short notice. But I'm not making any excuses. I took the fight because I wanted to take the fight and I took the fight because I knew I can win this fight.
What's it like training with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles?
Man, the guy is amazing. He's such a nice person; he's so good. He's just amazing. I'm a big fan of Freddie Roach. When I got out there, I didn't have any money or anything, and he said, 'Don't worry about it.' And he held pads for me and helped me with training. You know, he believed in me like Rampage did. He said, 'You know, you're going to be good and I want to be there when you get there.' So for me, it's amazing. A guy like that taking his time to come and help me, it's just amazing. ... And I'm the only MMA fighter who goes there every single day. People think I'm a boxer because I go there every single day.
Do the MMA fighters get to train with the boxers?
We train with all boxers. The good thing about Freddie Roach is that Wild Card is a boxing gym. There's no such thing as MMA. If you step in there with your MMA knees and kicks, they look at you and say, 'Listen, this is boxing. So if you want to do your MMA, get out of here. This is strictly boxing.' So you train with everybody.
Will Roach be in your corner for this fight?
No, Freddie won't be in my corner. My other boxing coach, Eric Brown, will be in my corner. Freddie has some expo to do or something, so he couldn't make it. Hopefully next time.
For those who have yet to see you fight, which fighter would you compare your style to?
You gotta see my style and then you're going to tell me.
So no comparison out there?
I'm Jay Silva and I got my own style. You got to see it, man. You know, I don't want to compare myself to this fighter or that fighter. No, I got my own style and you got to see it. After you see it, you'll be like, 'Wow, you were right.'
What would be your dream match in the UFC?
(Laughs) I don't want to say, man.
Why not? Why are you shy all of a sudden?
I'm not shy, it's just ... I don't know, I'm an up-and-comer. I can't pick fights -- I just want to fight.
Well, there are a lot of good fighters in MMA with your last name. Will people soon have to talk about you when discussing the best Silvas in the sport?
I will be in that mix pretty soon, you'll see. Mark my words.