Erick Silva entered the UFC in 2011 as a former Jungle Fight champion and immediately caught the attention of company president Dana White with impressive finishes. But an inconsistent run over the next six years cost him his contract.
At age 34, and with an 8-8 record in the UFC, Silva chose to sign with LFA. Seven months after his last Octagon appearance, Silva entered the cage to fight Nick Barnes at LFA 45, scoring a late first-round armbar victory after getting knocked down early.
“I’m obviously very happy for the victory,” Silva told MMA Fighting, “but I don’t wanna get too excited about it because my focus is to evolve more, so I can’t waste any more time. Barnes is a great fighter, I couldn’t find the distance and he surprised me with an elbow that knocked me down, and I had the opportunity to lock the armbar and get the submission.”
The event marked Silva’s first non-UFC fight in almost nine years, and also his return to a Rio de Janeiro-based gym. Silva trained the majority of his UFC career at X-Gym, but decided to move back to his home state of Espirito Santo to open his own gym with veteran coach Andre Benkei. Two years later, Silva decided to move back to Rio to join Team Nogueira and once again work with Rogerio Camoes.
”Happy to be back to my origins in fighting,” Silva says he returns “more mature” to the city where he built his UFC career and became a hope for the Brazilian fans in the welterweight division. Looking back, though, being considered a future champion by fans in his first UFC days brought some extra pressure that later became an issue.
“It brought a bit of everything,” Silva said. “There’s a good side and a bad side. I would have done everything different today, and that’s the reason I want to make a new story now.”
”I want to start a new story now,” he said when asked why signing with LFA when sources told MMA Fighting his management team was also in talks with Bellator, “and coming up with a plan to make it happen would be the right thing at the moment.”
Asked if LFA’s relationship with the UFC was definitive for his decision to sign with the company instead of pursuing a deal with a bigger company like Bellator, Silva said “everything was determinant, in my opinion. I don’t know how it will be. Unless if I don’t start it now, it’s never too late.”
“(Fighting) will always be for love and for money, let’s be real,” he added. “And one of my goals for that is to restart my career in a smart way. I’m willing to pay the price for knowledge and evolution, even if it’s late.”