Sometimes the longest roads are the ones just to get to the starting line, and nobody knows that better than Natalia Silva. Signed to the UFC nearly two years ago, a series of fits and starts kept her sidelined as she waited to make her Octagon debut. The fateful day will finally arrive this Saturday when she takes on Jasmine Jasudavicius on the prelims of UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Emmett.
“It's been a struggle to get to this debut,” the Brazilian told UFC.com this week. “A lot has happened. Just the fact that I'm here experiencing all this is a victory.”
There’s an exuberance in her voice that confirms this sentiment, and she takes in even the most mundane fight week tasks—like photos, media and outfitting—with visible joy and enthusiasm.
She’ll save the best of that enthusiasm for the Octagon Saturday night at Austin’s Moody Center, her first fight since 2019. Rightfully feared for her submission skills, the 12-5-1 Taekwondo ace is eager to remind fans why she was signed in the first place.
“I'm going after the win, and I will fight my heart out.”
UFC: Tell us a little about how you got started in MMA. What discipline did you begin with?
NS: I started in Taekwondo in a social project in my hometown, Pingo d'Água. It was my friend, who was also my neighbor, that invited me. She said, "Natalia, let's train Taekwondo for you to see what it's like.” I started training and haven't stopped since then. And then I started doing MMA fights. I transitioned to MMA having only a Taekwondo background
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But it only lasted a week. I thought "I broke my arm and I have to deal with it. So, let's go!" And I managed to overcome it. I got back to training five months later, once I had fully recovered from that fracture. But I got hit during training and suffered an injury, a bone callus, so I had to be out for even longer. And then I broke my nose. So, it's been a struggle to get to this debut. A lot has happened. Just the fact that I'm here experiencing all this is a victory. So, I'll fight my heart out on fight night. I'm very happy.
UFC: Amongst your teammates is UFC vet Paulo Costa. Has being around him helped you prepare for this moment?
NS: Absolutely. Ever since I moved from my hometown of Pingo d'Água, Minas Gerais, to Contagem, my career has completely changed. It's a great team. Our head coach is Carlos Borracha. Besides coaching us, he's always motivating us. Also having Paulo on the team, you see what he's been doing in the sport. You see where he came from and where he is now. So that definitely motivates me, and it has definitely prepared me for this moment.
UFC: You’re taking on Jasmine Jasudavicius. Have you seen her fight before and how do you see this one going?
NS: Yes, I've watched all her fights. She's a very strong fighter. Her grappling game is very solid. She's coming off good wins. But her game has holes and my team and I have worked a lot to take advantage of that and impose my game, which is to be aggressive inside the cage.
UFC: Your last seven wins have all been by submission, six of those by armbar. Your opponent is very aware of that stat. Is your trademark armbar how you think you’ll end this fight?
NS: That's what will get me the victory, God willing. I fight looking for an opportunity. If I see an arm, of course I'll get it. I can't let it slip by. But I don't focus only on that. I work on other things. I had a well-rounded camp. So if I see an opportunity, I'm ready to finish the fight.
UFC: A lot of fans will be seeing you for the first time in Austin. What would you say they can expect?
NS: They can expect a girl that will definitely fight with her heart. I'm going after the win and I will fight my heart out. I haven't fought in a while and I have all this desire to fight in my heart. That's what I'm going to do inside the cage. I will fight with all my heart and desire.
UFC Fight Night: Kattar vs Emmett, took place on Saturday, June 18, 2022, live from the Moody Center in Austin, Texas. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!