RIO DE JANEIRO -- Erick Silva returns to the Octagon Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, but he wasn’t 100 percent sure of who would be on the other side of the cage until the final week of his training camp.
Initially scheduled to meet Ben Saunders, Silva was then slated to meet UFC veteran Josh Koscheck when "Killa B" pulled out with an injury. Silva confirmed the match-up and started training for the bout, but the UFC never made an official announcement.
Silva’s camp kept confirming the bout despite UFC’s silence, but sources close to the promotion told that Koscheck was still dealing with visa issues. The UFC decided to sign Jungle Fight champion Elizeu Zaleski as a backup plan, in case Koscheck wasn’t able to fly to Brazil.
A week before the fight, the UFC finally announced the Koscheck vs. Silva.
Silva, who had less than a month to prepare for a new opponent in Koscheck, says that training with middleweight contender Ronaldo Souza made this transition easier.
"It’s my first time with ‘Jacare’ in my corner, but he knows me, we train together all the time," Silva said. "He did most of my sparring sessions for this fight. When they changed my opponent for Josh, no one’s better than ‘Jacare’ to do this game, to go for takedowns. He emulated Koscheck for me, and his hands are way heavier than Koscheck’s [laughs]."
Koscheck hasn’t won a fight in three years and enters UFC Fight Night 62 in a four-fight losing skid, but that doesn’t make Silva look at him as an easy win.
"He’s more experienced, really tough and only lost to guys that are in the top 5 of the division," he said. "He’s hungry to win, just like me, and it’s going to be a great fight."
Looking for his first win streak in the UFC after bouncing between wins and losses in his nine-fight run under the promotion’s banner, Silva plans on giving Koscheck the fourth knockout loss of his UFC career.
"I trained a lot of submissions, a lot of muay thai," Silva said. "My goal is to knock him out, where I feel more comfortable inside the Octagon."