Sports

How Royce Gracie made an impact on Alex Silva’s life and career

Alex “Little Rock” Silva is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, and he could be one of the best grapplers in the world today.

However, it was the striking aspect of martial arts that initially attracted him to combat sports.

“My first exposure to it was Bruce Lee movies,” the 36-year-old said.

“I started to train with all these [martial arts] like kung fu and capoeira, while my brother trained in judo. I tried it one time, but I didn’t like it because I liked punching and kicking.”

While Silva was absolutely fascinated with the striking department, it wasn’t until he saw a Brazilian legend utilize submissions and takedowns that led to his ultimate martial arts passion.

Silva identified with this legend not only because of his dominance with grappling, but also because he was able to defeat much larger opposition.

“One day, I watched the first Ultimate Fighting Championship event where Royce Gracie competed,” he shared.

“I was interested because it was a Brazilian guy fighting a lot of big guys, but when I saw it, I thought, there’s no way he could beat those guys.

“Then he finished them, and I couldn’t even understand what was happening. In my mind, it’s all about punches and kicks. But then the guys kept tapping out, and I didn’t know what was going on.”

“Little Rock” would later find a nearby gym that taught “the gentle art” and was surprised to see his friend, Evolve teammate Leandro “Brodinho” Issa, training in the same gym.

That was an enlightening and enjoyable experience for Silva, even if things didn’t always turn out the way he wanted it to.

“Have you ever had experience in BJJ? If you do, for sure, you would be tapped out by a girl at one point,” he quipped.

“It’s one thing that makes BJJ fascinating for me because I know martial arts, and I fought and trained in a couple of disciplines, so when I went into the gym, I thought it was going to be easy for me. Then later, I’m on my back getting choked out by a girl.”

Though he initially learned all of these martial arts for self-defense, his goals soon evolved into winning World Titles.

After accomplishing his goals in BJJ, he set out to try mixed martial arts, as “Brodinho” and some of his friends had made the transition.

“I wanted to test myself because I have been competing in BJJ for so long, so I wanted to try a new challenge,” he said.

“I’m still at the beginner stage of my mixed martial arts career, but if tomorrow or the next day I decide to stop, I will still be happy.

“Wherever I competed, I won a World Title, so I’ll be satisfied, but not yet. There are still a lot of things to do in mixed martial arts.”

Silva reached the pinnacle when he defeated Yoshitaka Naito for the gold in December 2017. He dropped it back to the Japanese athlete in their rematch five months later, and this coming Friday, May 17, he settles the score with “Nobita” in a trilogy bout at ONE: Enter The Dragon in Singapore.

Although neither man is in possession of the belt at present time, a win will likely catapult the victor into contention.

MMA (MIXED MARTIAL ARTS)