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Erick Silva explains decision to return to hometown and open own gym after first camp in California

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Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

BRASILIA -- Erick Silva desperately needs a win at UFC Fight Night 95, so he made a lot of changes in his life.

Booked to fight Luan Chagas at Saturday night’s event in Brasilia, Brazil, after losing back-to-back fights to Neil Magny and Nordine Taleb, Silva decided to move back to his hometown Vila Velha, Espirito Santo. The 32-year-old welterweight, who trained at Kings MMA for his last fight, felt that the cons of being away from his son were bigger than the pros.

"I spent some time in California and it was an amazing experience, one of the biggest technical evolutions I had," Silva told MMA Fighting. "I trained jiu-jitsu with Rafael Mendes and felt a great evolution, and I don’t even need to mention Rafael Cordeiro. The experience I had there, seeing how they train, I was blown away. Unfortunately, I missed my son a lot, so I decided to move back to Espirito Santo and open my own gym here."

Silva decided to open his own gym in Vila Velha, and his son Kalleu is with him all the time. To prepare for his 13th UFC fight, Silva hired Andre Benkei as his head coach, Vitor Vianna to train his jiu-jitsu, Saymon Ferreira to work his hands, and Bruno de Paula in the wrestling area, among other professionals. Despite all the changes, opening his own gym proved to be less expensive than training in the United States.

"I paid for everything when I was living in California, and now being in my home state I could get some partnerships for my project," Silva said. "Besides my sponsors, I also have sponsors to my gym, so it’s more affordable to have my own gym here. My sponsors help this team grow."

Against Luan Chagas, who impressed in his UFC debut despite fighting to a split draw with Sergio Moraes at UFC 198, Silva thinks this fight will be a turning point in his career.

"This fight is the first step to show everyone the changes in Erick Silva’s life," he said. "That’s why this fight is so important. I want people to see that it makes the difference being around people you love, being mentally well and happy, and having a great camp.

"He’s a tough athlete. If he’s in the UFC, that’s because he deserves it. I won’t train less or think it’s an easy fight only because he has one UFC fight. I’m sure it won’t be easy. We know what he’s worth. However, I need the win in this moment. I’m training hard and focused."

With a 6-6 run inside the Octagon, an unimpressive record for someone that was considered a promising prospect in the welterweight division after his first UFC fights, Silva knows that Saturday night could be a do or die moment for him.

"You always need the win, no matter if you’re coming off a win or a loss," Silva said. "Of course that you always want the win, but we have to be realistic and know that this is a very important moment for me, and that’s why I have worked so hard in the gym."