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Rafael Silva wants to ‘win another belt’ with Pancrase-ONE partnership

Rafael "Morcego" Silva racked up an 8-1 record since leaving Bellator in 2015.

Pancrase flyweight king Senzo Ikeda has joined the ONE Championship flyweight grand prix, taking on Danny Kingad at Sunday’s ONE event in Tokyo, and he’s not the only Pancrase titleholder hoping to make a jump to another promotion.

ONE announced earlier this month it has partnered with Pancrase, opening doors for “Pancrase’s best athletes to progress into ONE and compete on the global stage,” the company announced.

That’s everything Rafael Silva was hoping for.

“Morcego” captured the Pancrase bantamweight title in May 2018, defeating Japanese veteran Masakatsu Ueda via decision. Ten months later, the Brazilian needed less than four minutes to submit Kenta Takizawa to become the undisputed titleholder.

”I heard some talk that the winner of that fight would fight for ONE next,” Silva told MMA Fighting. “Pancrase got this partnership with ONE now and they said that every Pancrase champion would fight at ONE. I don’t know what they are going to do, if I will really for at ONE next, but it’s pretty cool.”

”Every MMA athlete dreams of competing for a Japanese promotion,” he continued. “My dream was always to fight in Japan because I loved watching Pride, and thank God I had the opportunity to fight for a cool promotion like Pancrase and win a title there. I’m very happy. We’ll see what happens now.”

The ONE bantamweight gold will be on the line Sunday, when Kevin Belingon and Bibiano Fernandes meet for a third time. Regardless of who emerges victorious at the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena in Tokyo, “Morcego” wants to add another belt to his resume.

”It would be really cool,” Silva said. “I know Bibiano and his story, he’s a tough guy. I believe I’m at the same level of every one there, so let’s see what happens. ONE is a big promotion and has been growing a lot lately. If everything goes right, it would be wonderful to fight the best there and try to win another belt.”

Silva, 30-6 as a professional mixed martial arts fighter, has won eight of nine bouts since leaving Bellator in 2015. “Morcego” went 5-1 in three years under the Pancrase banner.