UFC London winner Claudio Silva defends controversial verbal submission of Danny Roberts

LONDON – Not everybody was happy with the call that gave Claudio Silva a win over Danny Roberts at UFC on ESPN+ 5, but Silva is standing by the referee’s decision.

Silva (13-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) met London’s own Roberts (16-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) in a welterweight bout on the main card of Saturday’s event at The O2. Roberts was clearly getting the better of it on the feet until Silva was able to withstand some mean-looking punches and elbows on the ground before locking in the fight-ending armbar in the third round.

Sounds simple enough, but it wasn’t.

The issue was that Roberts never tapped and seemed to break free when referee Keven Sataki stepped in and called it, declaring Silva victorious via verbal submission. A “gutted” Roberts was clear in his disappointment with the call afterwards and received support – and an apology – from UFC President Dana White.

Speaking to reporters backstage, though, Silva reaffirmed the validity of what ended up being his 13th win in a row.

“The referee told me verbal tap,” Silva said. “If somebody shouts when you have the submission, it’s a verbal tap. And that’s what he did. He shouted twice. So, at the end of the day, he gave up. I applied the armbar, and he gave up. He was elbowing me in the face and cutting me off, and I was just laughing. I was like enjoying, because I’d never been in that place before.

“I was enjoying every single second of the fight. I don’t care (about) adversity. Some people, they quit in adversity. And other people, they make great things. They make records. And that’s what I did tonight. He was ground-and-pounding me, strong elbows. And I just take my time and make him tap. I just show how good I am in BJJ; I’m a true BJJ black belt.”

Controversial ending aside, there’s no questioning Silva’s ability to handle adversity. And that doesn’t apply only to damage taken within the confines of the cage.

Last May, Silva choked out Nordine Taleb to earn a rather special win. Not only did it mean an added $50,000 thanks to a “Performance of the Night” bonus, but it also meant the end of a long, difficult layoff due to injury. In total, three-and-a-half years separated Silva’s win over Taleb from a split decision over Leon Roberts.

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Silva, a Brazilian-born fighter who currently lives in London, was eager to re-claim his momentum and took a fight set to take place only four months later. But then one day, after wrestling practice, injury struck again – this time in his lower back.

“I took a shower and then I tried to move, I tried to pick up something on the floor,” Silva said. “I can’t bend over, also I can’t bend my knees. I couldn’t squat. I couldn’t move. I was very worried. Because it’s the lower back, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I just come off time off, now it’s happened again.”

The injury forced Silva out of a meeting with Ramazan Emeev and into more compulsory waiting, but this time the Brazilian learned some valuable lessons.

“I try to keep positive all the time,” Silva said. “I went to the doctor straight away. And it’s not worth to risk it. It’s not worth to fight when you have serious injury like that. So I said, ‘You know what, I’m going to take my time getting better and start training again. And that’s what I did. Nowadays, on my camps, I’m starting to listen more to my body. If I wake up, and I feel I don’t have to train, I don’t train. I recover.”

Given Silva’s history, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t mention multiple belts or dreams of mainstream stardom when he points out his main goal right now.

“My biggest dream is to make four fights or five fights in one year,” Silva said.

It helps that Silva isn’t being picky about it. Whether the opponent has a name or not, Silva says, he’s still getting paid the same. After a couple of weeks of vacation, the welterweight says he’ll be back at it, waiting to sign whatever bout agreement is presented to him.

“The resume speaks for itself,” Silva said. “It’s four fights, four victories, two finishes in the UFC. Against Nordine Taleb, against Danny Roberts, Leon Edwards, Bradley Scott, so what more I have to prove? Give me anyone. I will break them down; I’ll break their spirit.

“Just bring them in. I’m Claudio Silva, I’m the ‘Hannibal,’ Britishzillian, let’s do it. Any time, anywhere. Just throw me the names, and I’ll break them up.”

To hear more from Silva, watch the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 5, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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