The start of Karine Silva’s UFC career was as smooth as it comes.
In 2021, Silva made a splash on Dana White’s Contender Series with an impressive second-round submission victory over Yan Qihui, earning Silva a UFC contract. Silva made her debut eight months later against Poliana Botelho at UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs Rozenstruik.
Botelho, with seven UFC fights to her name ahead of that fight, was already established in the UFC and fought the likes of Cynthia Calvillo and Gillian Robertson. But after a dominant performance on DWCS, Silva entered the bout as the favorite and delivered in spectacular fashion.
After four minutes of a feeling out process, Silva landed a powerful overhand right and followed it up with an immediate takedown. Silva went to work from there, landing hammer fists to force Botelho into a dangerous position on the mat. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, Silva jumped on a D’Arce choke, causing Botelho to tap with five seconds remaining in the round.
Despite two consecutive impressive performances, you’d expect Silva to get back in the Octagon quickly to continue her rise in the flyweight division, but she was without a fight for 10 months until getting a fight scheduled with Priscila Cachoeira in April. To make matters worse, Silva’s scheduled bout was eventually cancelled, making it now a full year without competing.
“It was one bump after another,” Silva said regarding her mixed martial arts journey. “I think for every athlete in Brazil, it’s complicated and difficult. But thank God in my journey I found my coach Juliano Ribeiro who supports me all the way, [and] my wife Tamarinha. It has been difficult, but it is possible. It’s not impossible. It’s not easy, but it’s possible and we’re here.”
Silva finally has an opportunity to get back in the Octagon this Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi, where Silva challenges UFC newcomer Ketlen Souza at the UFC APEX.
“It has increased my drive,” said Silva, who hasn’t competed since June 2022. “I wanted to dedicate myself even more, adjust even more positions, all the things I like to do. And it wasn’t a bad thing. It wasn’t pleasant to go through, it was an unpleasant situation for everyone, but it happened, and we have to know how to deal with it.
“We used this bad situation as fuel to get me even more excited, to train even more and improve on top of everything that we were working on. [We] made some adjustments on the strategy and here we go again.”
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Souza makes her UFC debut this weekend against Silva, so it might be the first time UFC fans watch her compete. Silva, however, has had her eyes on Souza for quite a while. Both athletes are from and have competed in Brazil, so Silva already watched and knew of Souza before they were ever scheduled to compete. This made transitioning her training camp focus from Cachoeira to Souza an easy one.
“There’s a lot of footage that we were able to find,” Silva said. “I’ve been following her for a while. She was the replacement for a belt back in Brazil. I was already following her, and it helped a lot. We tweaked a few things. Her game is also standup fighting. We trained for that so it’s all good.
“She’s a fast girl,” Silva said of her upcoming opponent. “She has heavy hands, too, and that’s not a problem. We are very well prepared for this, and our strategy was very well set up for her game. I’m really excited for this fight.
“You can expect a more aggressive Karine. And of course, I’m going to get the win. I’m very happy to be here again, and let’s go.”
UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 3, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!