Displays of raw emotion in the Octagon following a big victory are as reliable as the sun rising in the east, but few in 2020 were as unforgettable as Mayra Bueno Silva’s. As Bruce Buffer announced her armbar submission win over Mara Romero Borella at the UFC APEX last September, and as referee Jason Herzog attempted to raise her hand, the Brazilian covered her face in her shirt, dropped to her knees and cried.
Even now, months removed from the win, “Sheetara” is still overcome with emotion thinking about that evening.
“Very, very good, this sensation…very blessed,” she says with her trademark radiant smile. The victory was more than a return to the win column; it was validation that her body would cooperate with her dream.
On the merits of a stellar first-round ninja choke of Mayana Souza during the Brazilian edition of Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2018, Silva found herself fighting and winning in the UFC just a month later. After dispatching the dangerous Gillian Roberston with a first-round armbar at UFC Sao Paulo, the stage was set for the newcomer to make a thrilling run through the flyweight division.
But although the Robertson fight was less than five minutes, she nonetheless sustained a knee injury that would require surgery, resulting in the longest layoff of her career: nearly 18 months. Fighters sustain injuries all the time, but it had become a recurring theme for Silva, one that plagued her fight after fight until that night in Las Vegas.
"Almost always I leave the Octagon for the hospital,” she would say that night, “but this time I will celebrate with my team.”
Those happy memories - coupled with the fact she has won both of her previous Las Vegas outings by first-round submission - have her visibly happy to be returning to the Fight Capital of the World. She refers to it as a second home as he looks over at the APEX’s slightly smaller Octagon, and hopes she can recreate her good fortune Saturday against Montana De La Rosa on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs Gane.
“She has courage and I have courage, too,” she says of the matchup. “I think I have more of an arsenal, but Montana is a good fighter. I think this fight will be the best fight of the night. I think Saturday [will be] a good show for everybody.”
A natural striker who is particularly accomplished at Muay Thai, it’s a poorly kept secret that she’s nearly as dangerous at grappling. It doesn’t hurt that she counts Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira among her training partners at Brazil’s Chute Boxe Diego Lima.
“I train with the best fighters in the world. Charles is an amazing fighter. An amazing person,” she declares with obvious pride. Working day-in, day-out with the elite lightweight submission artist will only benefit her against De La Rosa, who is only too happy to take things to the canvas.
“I like Montana,” concedes Silva. “I like her style. But I think I’m better.”
The bout will mark Silva’s third fight in less than a year, and it’s the first time she’s been able to have such frequency since 2016. Another impressive outing and the 7-1 star could return to her original mission of shaking up the flyweight landscape, assuming she can keep the injury bug at bay. She’s trained specifically in the gym to keep those chances low, but has also struck a pragmatic stance that relies more on her faith than her fists.
“My mind is very strong. Everything I have, God has blessed me…I put my life in God. I think my year will be amazing, but God is better and God has big things for me.