After six straight wins and an incredible striking performance, Brazil’s Alex “Little Rock” Silva followed up a decorated grappling career by capturing his first world title inside the ONE Championship cage.
Silva, who challenged Japan’s Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito for the ONE Strawweight World Championship, utilized every bit of striking ability he gained through his time training with the many world champions at Evolve MMA.
For five full rounds, Silva punished Naito with chopping leg kicks and stinging punches in front of a packed crowd in the main event of ONE: WARRIORS OF THE WORLD, which took place Saturday, 9 December, at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand.
The highly-anticipated strawweight world title clash certainly did not disappoint, providing fans with loads of back-and-forth action. In the end, Silva did just enough to edge out Naito in an exciting, yet grueling contest. He earned the judges’ nod to capture the highly-coveted ONE Strawweight World Championship.
The bout began with the two warriors circling each other at the center of the cage. After the two showed respect by touching gloves, an intense striking encounter was immediately underway. As is typical when two high-level grapplers face each other in the cage, the action tends to stay on the feet. With both men looking to pull ahead early, it was Silva who appeared the sharper of the two.
The first two rounds saw a dominant performance from Silva, a BJJ world champion. Naito would remain mobile on the feet, trying his best to stay out of range for the most part, but Silva found success in landing a plethora of low leg kicks to Naito’s lead leg, while occasionally homing in a massive right hand down the pipe.
Although Naito’s game plan had appeared to steer away from taking matters to the ground, perhaps wary of Silva’s world-class grappling pedigree, things were not working out for the Japanese titleholder on the feet either. Silva was consistently getting the better of striking exchanges, repeatedly tagging Naito with powerful blows while also pressing the action.
In the championship rounds, however, Naito either knew he had to risk taking the bout to the ground in order to showcase his superior wrestling, or it was his plan to tire Silva out first.
Naito began to turn on the heat during the fourth stanza, as Silva started to show signs of exhaustion. The fifth and final frame saw Naito’s best five minutes of the contest, dragging Silva to the ground on multiple occasions with his patented single leg attack and controlling the action on the top. “Little Rock,” however, would do his best to defend against Naito’s grappling, using his years of world-class experience to power himself through to the end.
It was an amazing display of heart and tenacity by both men, who certainly came to Bangkok to give it their all.
After five years inside the ONE cage, Silva finally realized his dream of becoming a ONE World Champion. He improves his record to a solid 7-1, finds himself on a six-bout win streak, and claimed the strawweight world title.
The setback for Naito drops him to 12-1, notching the very first loss on his previously-unblemished record. The 33-year-old Japanese grappler put in a spirited effort, but waited too late to showcase the wrestling, which has brought him so much success.