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Erick Silva: Neil Magny hasn’t fought someone as tough as me before

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Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Erick Silva’s return was moved from June to August, and his opponent switched due to an injury, but the Brazilian welterweight is finally ready to step inside the Octagon.

Initially slated to meet Rick Story on June 26, and then moved to Aug. 23 due to visa issues, Silva takes on Neil Magny after Story suffered an injury, and the constant changes forced the Brazilian to adapt in training ahead of Sunday’s UFC Fight Night 74 co-main event bout.

"We had to change our strategy, of course, but we always train everything," Silva told MMAFighting.com. "We have to train wrestling, jiu-jitsu, boxing and muay thai. If the other guy is tall, short, a wrestler or a striker, we have to train everything. The strategy changes, but we did it perfectly."

Silva doesn’t think Magny is an easy opponent, but admits he’s less complicated than Story. However, that doesn’t mean the X-Gym welterweight expects to walk through Magny on Sunday night.

"Neil Magny is taller and likes to strike, and Rick Story is shorter and is a complete fighter. I don’t see Rick Story as tougher, but he’s more complicated due to his style," Silva said. "You have to be focused on not getting taken down when you strike. Neil Magny likes to trade more. He also has good takedowns, but a top MMA athlete has to be ready for everything today.

"We can’t underestimate anyone," he continued. "We have to attack when we see an opportunity. He can get you down at any moment, so I won’t get too comfortable and think that he won’t take me down. I’m going into this fight thinking that I’m fighting the best wrestler, the best striker, and the best grappler in the division. I won’t underestimate him. I’m focused, and I won’t give him any opening."

For a fighter who’s trying to work his way up the rankings, going from a fight against No. 10 welterweight Story to No. 15 Magny, who is coming off a loss to Demian Maia in Rio de Janeiro, doesn’t help you.

"Every fighter wants to move up the rankings, but the win is more important to me," Silva said. "I will fight the same way, it doesn’t matter if I’m fighting the No. 10 of 15 in the rankings. But my goal is to move up the rankings, of course. I’m getting closer after every fight. I have more experience now, more confident in my training. I will fight him, I will win, and move up step by step."

Despite the fact that Magny got dominated and tapped by Maia at UFC 190, Silva doesn’t intend to follow his countrymen’s strategy in Saskatoon.

"There was no fight, basically. Demian completely dominated him," he said. "But that doesn’t mean we can say Magny has a weak ground game. Demain has a high level ground game, and he did the strategy that worked better for him, and I will do what works for me.

"I’m a black belt in jiu-jitsu and muay thai, and I believe I have a lot of opportunities standing and on the ground. I have heavy hands, too. I haven’t seen Magny fight someone as tough as me or with hands as heavy as mine."

Silva’s six UFC wins took place in the opening round, four via submission, and he plans on making Magny pay for any mistake he makes inside the Octagon.

"I’m an explosive athlete and I like to throw punches and kicks on the right time. There’s no secret," he said. "I will capitalize and finish when I see an opening, standing or on the ground. I can’t say I’m looking to keep the fight standing only. I will find out during the fight where I feel better, and where I can finish him faster."