Alex “Little Rock” Silva may represent his home nation of Brazil, but he is based in the heart of Asia, as one of the integral members of the continent’s most prominent gym.
Evolve MMA has produced a conveyor belt of talent for the region, and “Little Rock” became one of the latest members of the acclaimed Evolve Fight Team to capture a world championship when he defeated Yoshitaka Naito to win the ONE Strawweight World Title last December.
Silva credits his fellow countryman, ONE Championship bantamweight star and close friend Leandro “Brodhino” Issa for bringing him half-way across the world to live in Singapore, which he now considers his second home.
“I came to Singapore because of my friend, Leandro,” explained the 35-year-old.
“He came here first, then he invited me to come and join him and join Evolve MMA.”
Issa and Silva are both former BJJ world champions, and when Issa was invited to Singapore to join the Evolve Fight Team, it wasn’t long before Silva was similarly recruited to make the same move.
“Man, this guy (Issa) is my idol, my hero, my friend, my brother,” Silva says with a smile.
“To be here with him in Singapore, it is amazing. He has always been a big part of my career. I started my training with him, so I have always tried to follow him in everything he does. He is a good example, and I am so lucky to have a friend like him in my life.”
Despite the long distance from home, Silva has settled into life in Singapore like a duck to water, and says he fell in love with the nation very quickly.
“I really love Singapore. It is my second home,” he explained.
“It is very different than Brazil, but I feel really comfortable here. When I am not at the gym, I take my wife, and we go out to eat and go shopping. It is a really nice place to live.”
The only issues Silva encountered were homesickness and missing his family and his daughter, who remain back home in Brazil. But he explained that he knew that his work in Singapore wasn’t only chasing his competitive goals, it was also providing for his family in the best way he possibly could.
“The hardest thing for me was being away from my family and my daughter, but it is part of the game, and part of the job,” he says.
“In your life, you have to make sacrifices, and I am making these sacrifices to achieve my goals and provide for my family.
“Being away from my family is definitely the hardest part. It is a long way from Brazil to Singapore, so it is not easy to make a lot of regular trips, but I always try to get back home at least once a year.”
Silva is happy and settled in Singapore, and the results are there for all to see. Since his decision loss to Geje Eustaquio on his ONE Championship debut, Silva has gone undefeated winning six straight contest, with the first five of them all ending via submission finish.
His most recent win came against then-champion Naito, as Silva showcased his ever-improving striking skills to outpoint the Japanese world champion and capture the ONE Strawweight World Title. The pair will meet again in an eagerly-awaited rematch at ONE: GRIT AND GLORY on 12 May in Jakarta, Indonesia.
As you’d expect from a world champion seeking to defend his crown, Silva has been toiling hard in the gym. But while the work is hard, it’s all fun for the Brazilian, who says there’s nowhere else in Singapore he’d rather be than within the four walls of the Evolve MMA gym.
“My favorite place here in Singapore is definitely my gym,” he said.
“It is where I feel most at home. I have all my friends here, and I have all my students here, so this is where I spend most of my time. I love it here.
“Every day, I am at the gym. Even on my days off, I end up coming to the gym anyway. That is my life. It is what I love to do. Some people like to go to the beach, some like to party, but I just love coming to the gym.”
That love for hard work in the gym will stand him in good stead when he comes to face Naito again. The former world champion will be fired up to win back the title Silva ripped from his grasp.
But with “Little Rock” seemingly in the middle of a sweet spot, both in his career and in his life, don’t expect the Brazilian to give up his title lightly.