A Jungle Fight welterweight champion, Erick Silva reached the UFC about a year after his title win being regarded as one of the biggest promises of Brazilian MMA. Now, after nearly six years of alternating between ups and downs, the Brazilian has gone from young prospect to veteran status. However, “The Tiger” is confident that his performances will only get better after he made a drastic change in his life, abandoning the renowned teams he trained with and setting up his own team back home in Vitória.
Contrary to the path taken by most Brazilian athletes, Silva decided to leave famous teams such as X-Gym, Team Nogueira and Kings MMA to set up his own training center in Espírito Santo. And while his choice was criticized by many of his peers, the fighter made it a point to make it clear that the change is essential for his preparation for his next fight: against Yancy Medeiros at UFC 212 on June 3 in Rio de Janeiro.
After all, according to “The Tiger”, he now has the exclusive attention of the team’s coaches – a privilege that is unheard of in bigger teams, where the coaches’ dedication is spread among several athletes.
“In the beginning, when I had this idea [of setting up my team], a lot of people went against it and thought I was coming to train in my hometown to stay in the comfort zone”, Silva said in an Interview with AG. Fight. “And comfort zone is what I have the least here. The training is much more taxing than in any other team. Not because my team is better than the others, of course not. But I think in my present situation, the more specific workouts I have, the better. Finding the best coaches to stay here with me and giving me specific attention was very important. This makes it possible for me to better myself to the fullest extent. [My] coaches live on the basis of my training. I’m with them every day, every day, at all times.”
Another point that the athlete sees as vital for his desired level-up of performance in the octagon is the presence of physical trainer André Benkei. According to Silva, the coach follows all his training and schedules all of his practices – always attentive to the smallest details, which of course is a crucial factor in this modern era of the sport.
“André Benkei is a guy who has trained several famous names like Rashad Evans, “Bigfoot” [Silva], [Gleison] Tibau and Thiago Alves. And he is a key player in my training and for my team. Benkei coordinates everything from my food to my rest time, my physiotherapy, literally everything. Even the doctor I’m going to. So, it is much more specific training and I believe that this is very important for my evolution. I currently have the kind of special attention that you can’t get when you train in a big team because everything ends up getting split among all the athletes. At this moment, I think I needed a crew that would be willing to help me get better with every detail of my game.”
Accustomed to share the gym with renowned athletes like Ronaldo ‘Jacaré’ Souza and Anderson Silva, “The Tiger” made it clear that he doesn’t miss the presence of such famous fighters in his preparation. According to the welterweight, their sparring partners have always been chosen based on their opponent’s fighting style, limiting the number of workouts with the big stars.
“When I trained in other teams, for example, I hardly sparred with [Ronaldo] “Jacaré”. He’s a lot heavier than me. He hardly sparred with Anderson [Silva]. We trained together, but didn’t even spar […]. We did a lot of specific sparring. “Jacaré” for example uses a lot of sparring with beginners but who have similar frames as the guy who will fight him. With Anderson, it’s the same thing and I think it’s like this everywhere. At Kings MMA, [Fabrício] Werdum and Rafael dos Anjos were sparring with non-UFC athletes. For my fights, I need a maximum of three to four sparring partners. I will not be training with ten different guys.”
Having not stepped into the Octagon since last September when he finished Luan Chagas at UFC Brasilia, Silva is about to face a tough opponent in Yancy Medeiros and apparently did his homework. Analyzing the Hawaiian’s game, the Brazilian listed his rival’s strengths and made it clear that he already set up his strategy over loopholes he found in his foe’s game.
“Yancy Medeiros is a very experienced and quite a complete athlete”, Silva acknowledged. “We have to stay aware of all his possible attacks. He has good kicks, makes level changes and can fight right-handed or left-handed. We need to be very attentive to these details. I have to be very cautious also with the takedown entries, he usually gets some guillotines. So, these are some very specific things that we have to train because these are things that he does with a certain frequency. We have been able to notice a few holes in his game and we adjusted our strategy to that.”