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Dayana Silva warns former champion Julia Budd not to underestimate her ahead of Bellator 257

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Dayana Silva (pictured, right) makes her Bellator debut against Julia Budd (not pictured) on Friday night
Marcell Fagundes, Shooto Brasil

Dayana Silva demands respect as she makes her first walk to the cage in a major promotion Friday night in Uncasville, Conn., taking on former Bellator champion Julia Budd at Bellator 257 on April 16.

Silva, who fights out of Rio de Janeiro’s Nova Uniao gym, makes her promotional debut against the top-ranked featherweight in the preliminary portion of the card. Surrounded by proven talent at Nova Uniao and part of Ketlen Vieira’s previous UFC camps, Silva is celebrating a “huge opportunity” in Bellator.

“I hope she doesn’t underestimate me,” Silva said of Budd, who has only lost to MMA legends Cris Cyborg, Amanda Nunes and Ronda Rousey in a stellar career. “It’s not her thing, she seems like a very focused athlete and she doesn’t need that. She’s very experienced, but I think I will beat her with my strategy and have my hands raised in the end.”

A natural bantamweight, Silva switched things up in her diet as she moved up to featherweight since Bellator doesn’t currently have a 135-pound division.

“I’ll happy to be here, and I know it will be a tough fight against a tough athlete,” she said. “I’ll be fighting the No. 1-ranked fighter right below Cris Cyborg, so I know it’s a big fight.”

Silva enters the big leagues in 2021 after coming up short in a couple of opportunities in the past.

Back in 2017, the Rio de Janeiro native signed on for Dana White’s Contender Series at bantamweight, but she lost a split decision to Gisele Moreira. Silva captured the Shooto Brasil 135-pound belt a year later and joined the Road to PFL lightweight grand prix on a month’s notice at Shooto Brasil in 2020, this time losing another split decision to tournament winner—and future Kayla Harrison opponent—Mariana Morais in the semifinal.

“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” Silva said. “I’ve had the chance to do tryouts for big promotions in the past but never had the opportunity to actually fight for an international promotion. I’m really happy because this is what I’ve trained my entire life for, to enter a big promotion and stay there.”

Signing a three-bout deal with Bellator and facing a former titleholder in her debut is a life-changing opportunity for Silva, and it’s a chance to finally move one step closer to making cagefighting her only job. Silva quit her job as a pathologist technician in 2015 but still has to teach private classes in the gym to make ends meet.

“Even though I’ve been fighting for 12 years I’ve never had the luxury of living exclusively for fighting,” Silva said. “I have a family, I have parents and two brothers. They are married and have jobs now but I couldn’t just drop my job before. I was feeling like a duck. Ducks do everything, they swim, they fly and they walk, but can’t do anything well. When I decided to quit my job I said I didn’t want to do something halfheartedly.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve seen people that started at the same time and they are taking risks, and unfortunately I couldn’t. I took the risk and held God’s hands. I was training once a day, sometimes after working eight-hour shifts, and decided it was time. I was 25, it was now or never [for me]. That’s when I decided to quit, and thank God it has worked so far.”