UFC double-champion Henry Cejudo and coach Eric Albarracin broke the news of Bruno Silva’s UFC signing in January. The Brazilian bantamweight said they’re just getting started in his MMA career.
A longtime member of Cejudo’s camp, Silva will finally enter the Octagon at Saturday night’s UFC 243 in Melbourne, Australia, opposite Khalid Taha. The former TUF Brazil alum is 3-1-1 since his appearance on the reality show in 2015. He credits his teammates in Phoenix as crucial ingredients that finally got him in the UFC.
“I was already in the UFC radar for a while,” Silva told MMA Fighting. “I was on The Ultimate Fighter in 2015, but ended up losing my second fight. I had a bunch of wins after that, but Cejudo and the captain’s influence were very important. I was always with them, and that counts (for) a lot. I feel like I know everybody here in the UFC already. I was already part of this before even fighting here.”
Cejudo currently holds the UFC bantamweight and flyweight titles after defeating Demetrious Johnson, T.J. DIllashaw and Marlon Moraes over the last 14 months. The “Bulldog” was by his side during those key moments.
“I was in Cejudo’s corner – I was with him in every title fight he had, so that helped me a lot to enter the UFC,” Silva said. “I was in his corner for the Demetrious Johnson fight; I was part of most of Cejudo’s career. I know everybody, (and) I’ve travelled to many different places. I feel like home here, it’s almost like I’ve fought in the UFC already.”
Yesterday was a very emotional day as my training partner @bbulldoguinho was officially signed to the #UFC. This young man has a incredible story on how he made it to America let alone the @ufc. Congrats Bruno I am super proud to have met you and can’t wait to see you shine. pic.twitter.com/te35jVczij— Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo) January 28, 2019
For this camp, though, Silva decided to tweak a few things. Originally scheduled to face Taha at Abu Dhabi’s UFC 242 on Sept. 7, “Bulldog” finished his training camp at Pitbull Brothers in Brazil when the match was moved to Oct. 5.
The fact that Patricio Freire and Leandro Higo were training hard for Bellator in late-September — and some team members had a similar fighting style to Taha — convinced Silva to get back to Natal to train. But he plans to go back to Phoenix after UFC 243.
Taha brings a 1-1 UFC record to the table against the octagon newcomer. After dropping a decision to Nad Narimani in his first appearance in the eight-sided cage, Taha stopped Boston Salmon in just 25 seconds in April.
“Whoever they bring, it’s okay,” Silva laughed when asked about the matchup. “This kid is an explosive striker, but any opponent is fine. I don’t care, I’ll fight whoever shows up. He’s a very explosive striker and he will try to bring his best early in the fight, and that’s going to be his downfall.”
With three submissions and three knockouts to his credit in the past eight years, Silva predicts he’ll stop Taha under the bright lights in Melbourne.
“I was envisioning this fight ending in a certain way, but now I’m seeing many different outcomes,” Silva said. “I envision myself letting him throw everything he’s got in the beginning of the fight, (and letting) him do what he does best. When he gets tired in the second and third rounds, I’ll put pressure and finish the fight.
“But a fight is a fight. Who knows, maybe I’ll knock him out in the first round.”