Eric Silva (top) vs. Francisco Ayon: Gleidson Venga | Sherdog.com
BELEM, Brazil -- For the first time in its history, Brazil's biggest MMA event, Jungle Fight, has a welterweight champion. His name is Erick Silva.
At Jungle Fight 23 Saturday in Belem, the 26-year-old Silva walked away with the Jungle Fight title, submitting both Gil de Freitas and Francisco Ayon to win the vacant crown before a packed house at the State University of Para's gymnasium, which included names like Lyoto Machida, Pedro Rizzo and Glover Teixeira.
Silva -- an X-Gym training partner of Anderson Silva, Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza -- opened up with a clutch performance in the championship semi-finals against his fellow Brazilian, de Freitas.
Silva started better in the bout, winning the first round with his superior striking. However, de Freitas worked his trademark game -- strong takedowns and great ground control -- in the second round. Obviously tied at a round apiece, the fight was up for grabs heading into the third round.
In the decisive round, Silva seized the moment as he connected with an excellent roundhouse kick to the liver, dropping de Freitas to the mat. Silva followed with punches, which set up a perfect fight-ending guillotine choke, earning him the win 57 seconds into the final frame.
On the other side of the championship bracket, Ayon controlled Argentina's Fernando Martinez to earn a split decision after three rounds. In a bout with less action than the Silva-de Freitas match-up, the Mexican fighter was able to spend more time on top in dominant positions to earn the nod.
Ayon had nothing to offer the upstart Silva in the finals, however: Silva put Ayon on the ground, punished him with punches and applied an arm-triangle choke, finishing it from scarf control in just 67 seconds.
“I trained very hard for this night. Freitas is a tough guy, I was very tired after the fight against him," said Silva after his championship win. "In the final, thanks God, I did a quick job and submitted my opponent. I’m very happy and I’m looking for a fight out of Brazil."
Silva is Jungle Fight's second champion, following Yuri "Marajo" Alcantara, who won the promotion's lightweight title tournament in September. The pair of wins moves his record to 12-1, with nine straight victories.
Elsewhere, UFC veteran Edilberto de Oliveira rebounded from his September loss to Eduardo Pamplona with a second-round submission over Andre Lobato. After surviving Lobato's early leglock attacks, the Junior dos Santos sparring partner dominated the fight. "Crocota" eventually finished off the exhausted Lobato at 2:49 in the second frame, locking up a guillotine and rolling to finish it like an anaconda choke to force the tap.
Belem favorite Ildemar Alcantara -- brother of Jungle Fight lightweight champ Yuri Alcantara -- knocked out Jacko Quintana in just 86 seconds. Alcantara landed a crushing knee to the liver and followed up with punches until referee Carlos Barreto stopped the attack.
Neilson Gomes took a unanimous decision over Silmar Nunes, dominating from top position and threatening the local fighter with submissions late in the fight.
Paulo Henrique Garcia Rodrigues -- known locally as just "Paulao" -- outgrappled Handerson Tarta, armbarring him at 1:54 of the second round.