Silvera Recounts Title Fight Defeat Ahead of Wilkinson Clash

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Heading into the 2023 PFL season, light heavyweight Josh Silveira (13-2 MMA, 6-2 PFL) had a goal in mind: Get back to the playoffs. Upon earning a PFL deal during the 2022 Challenger Series, he stopped Marthin Hamlet (12-5 MMA, 6-4 PFL) with a first-round knockout in PFL 4 before entering the postseason as an alternate and dropping a unanimous decision to Omari Akhmedov (24-8-1 MMA, 3-2 PFL) in the postseason.

Thanks to an undefeated regular season a year ago, a playoff berth was his. He parlayed a pair of first-round stoppages during the regular year into a No. 1 seed in the semifinal round of postseason play. Silveira easily eliminated  No. 4 seed Ty Flores (13-5 MMA, 2-1 PFL) that summer night, stopping him with a first-round knockout.

Hamlet was upset in the other light heavyweight semifinal by No. 3 seed Impa Kasanganay (16-4 MMA, 6-1 PFL). With the dust settled in the semifinal phase of the playoffs, last season’s light heavyweight final was set for Nov. 24, Black Friday, in Washington DC.

Silvera Opens Up About Championship Fight Loss

In a recent interview with MMA Sucka’s Jeremy Brand, Josh Silvera discussed what was going through his mind after the defeat over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

“I would say two main things, there [are] many things that I took away from that fight,” Silvera began. “As a person, two main things: Going back to that first conversation about me growing up in MMA, me growing up in jiu-jitsu and kind of like me being an MMA baby, my whole life, this was the goal. This is the dream, this is my image, me thinking that I’m a fighter. I was destined to be this. When I lost the fight to Impa, I took a step back and realized that fighting is just something  I do, something that’s just been involved in my life. I appreciate it, I love it, but I’m more than just a fighter.”

“I’m a whole other person, so I think just taking a step back and enjoying life,” he continued. “Being appreciative, the PFL season will make you go kind of crazy sometimes and you’ll kind of forget about who you are, not just as a fighter, but as a person. That was one big takeaway. It took me 31 years, 30, 31 years to realize this is not your life, this is just something you do. That kind of helped me enjoy coming back from that loss a little bit.”

Silvera Puts It All in Perspective

Silvera later summed it all up thusly:

“I compete, I took the risk, and I lost,” he said. “It doesn’t change who I am. I’m not going to quit fighting because of this. It’s not going to discourage me. It’s just part of the game. The greatest competitors, the greatest athletes go through this.”

“I think the second [takeaway] from that fight, it’s kind of like a paradox type of thing right here. When I lost to Impa, my whole life, everything that’s happened in my life, I’ve had bad things, good things happen, but for Josh Silvera, that was probably one of the more devastating things that’s ever happened to me, which kind of sounds like dramatic, but losing $1 million, losing a world championship, it sucked, I was down, but then I started thinking about ‘If that’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, how blessed am I?'”

Looking Back on Sadibou Sy

After the unanimous decision loss to Impa Kasanganay last fall, the new PFL season dawned for Josh Silvera a few weeks ago during PFL 2. That Friday evening last month, he was booked to fight Sadibou Sy (16-8-2 MMA, 0-1 2024 PFL, zero points in the standings) and emerged victorious, but it wasn’t in a way that Silvera would have wanted it to be.

Although he scored the win by first-round TKO and netted the maximum of six points in the standings, the TKO was due to Sy injuring his finger.

“As a warrior’s mindset, I was like ‘Man, that’s (expletive deleted)”’, he said. “I didn’t want to win like this. I wanted to prove that I could actually beat this guy and choke him out. I didn’t want to win by breaking his finger, which I had no intentions to [do], it’s kind of the way he fell. As a PFL fighter in a tournament, I was pretty happy. You get in and out, no damage, you got six points, but as a warrior mindset, you’re like ‘Man, I don’t know'”.

Looking Ahead to Rob Wilkinson

If the PFL regular season were to end today, Josh Silvera would find himself in the playoffs for the third consecutive year. Currently, he stands as the No. 2 seed in the light heavyweight bracket and would face No. 3 seed Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (22-7-1 MMA, 1-0 2024 PFL, six points in the standings) during the semifinal round.

In order to book his spot in the playoffs in 2024, he has to first get past Rob Wilkinson (18-2, 1 NC, 1-0 PFL 2024, six points in the standings) at PFL 5 on June 21. Wilkinson would clinch the No. 1 seed in the bracket if the regular season ended today by virtue of his finish in the first fight of the regular season being four seconds quicker than Silveira’s.

Silveira wants the top seed all for himself when the smoke clears.

“When you look at an MMA career, this is the type of fight where it’s just, like, I could show the world something new,” he said. “To be honest with you, I could shock the world. Rob’s tough. He hasn’t had really any hard issues in the PFL besides that one hiccup last year where everything kind of went crazy, but I want to be that guy to take him out. This is my second time I get to fight a world champion in a row. Sadibou was first, I’m going to fight Rob. I’m not the matchmaker, I’m not in control of this stuff but I’m sure the PFL would like things to work out the way they want it to work out.”

Final Thoughts

Josh Silvera is a man with competition in his blood. He’s climbed the mountain in the past, but only time will tell if he can reach the peak of the crag this year.

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.