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Controversy Behind Him, Erick Silva Focused On the Future

"I don’t listen (to) what other people say; I only think (about) my next fight as if it were my last fight." - Erick Silva

UFC welterweight Erick SilvaErick Silva’s official record shows that he lost to Carlo Prater at UFC 142 earlier this year, and while that’s factually correct, it still doesn’t feel quite right. It feels like it’s missing an asterisk, an explanation.

It feels like Jon Jones’ loss to Matt Hamill.

Like the UFC light heavyweight champion’s bout with the now retired former Ultimate Fighter standout, Silva’s bout with Prater was technically a loss, but most people view it as a dominant performance marred by a controversial decision.

The pair of Brazilian welterweights squared off in January before another raucous crowd at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Prater making his UFC debut as a late replacement for an injured Siyar Bahadurzada, while Silva was returned for his sophomore outing in the Octagon after needing just 40 seconds to stop fellow first-timer Luis Ramos five months earlier at UFC 134.

As he did in his first outing, Silva wasted little time, taking the center of the cage, and dropping Prater with a hard knee to the midsection, following his crumpled opponent to the canvas, unleashing a flurry of strikes on the way down.

Prater squirmed, trying to avoid Silva’s blows. A shot landed on the nape of his neck, drawing a warning from referee Mario Yamasaki. Silva continued to pour it on, looking for the finish. Punches continued to land, some tiptoeing the border between being legal and illegal as Silva rained down strikes, and Prater continued to try an evade his opponent’s barrage.

Just 29 seconds into the contest, Yamasaki stepped in, and waved off the fight. Prater lay battered on the canvas while Silva celebrated what he thought was his second impressive win in the UFC, but it was not meant to be. He was disqualified due to illegal strikes to the back of the head, a decision few in attendance agreed with, including UFC President Dana White, who said the organization would treat the performance as a victory for the talented 27-year-old, and book his next fight accordingly.

“(I was) very disappointed,” Silva said of the outcome of his January encounter with Prater. “But even (though) I disagree with the decision, I understood that Yamasaki’s decision — he really thought that was the right decision. I don’t think about that anymore (though); just my next fight.”

The controversial decision in his last contest has done nothing to lessen the buzz that follows the Brazilian prospect, who returns to action Friday night in a bout that could go a long way to showing just how high up the welterweight rankings Silva will be able to climb in the future.

Silva meets Charlie Brenneman in the co-main event of UFC on FX 3, an event headlined by the flyweight tournament semifinal rematch between Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. While Brenneman isn’t the biggest name in the welterweight division, the former NCAA Division I wrestler is a sizable step up in competition for Silva, and has all the tools to bring his rapid climb up the rankings to a halt Friday night in Sunrise, Florida.

Wrestling has often been a weaker point for Brazilian fighters, with analysts pointing to Brenneman’s proficiency on the ground as a possible stumbling block for Silva, but “Indio” doesn’t seem all that concerned.

“I (have had a) lot of training, and confidence in my coaches and my teammates,” said the soft-spoken Silva through an interpreter. “I have training partners that always went good against wrestlers, like Rafael Feijao, Anderson Silva and Ronaldo “Jacare” (Souza). I have listened a lot (to) their advice.

“Professionally, I’m more focused in my training than before,” continued Silva, who carries a 13-2 record with one No Contest into Friday’s meeting with the 15-3 Brenneman.

Considering he’s needed less than 70 seconds to leave a pair of opponents laying on the canvas, looking up at the lights thus far, the prospects of a more focused, more prepared Silva should be something that makes the rest of the welterweight division a little nervous.

Excited to compete outside of his native Brazil for the first time in his career, Silva has a chance to further justify the heady praise and lofty expectations that have followed him from his days as a dominant force and welterweight champion in the Jungle Fight organization through to the Octagon. It’s also a chance to put the lingering controversy from his last fight behind him.

A man of few words, Silva says that while some may still want to discuss the results of his fight with Prater, his sole focus is Friday’s matchup with Brenneman, and preparing as if his entire career rests on this contest.

“I don’t listen (to) what other people say; I only think (about) my next fight as if it were my last fight.”

Win or lose, Erick Silva isn’t going anywhere any time soon.