Jussier da Silva file photo: Sherdog.com
The call for World Extreme Cagefighting to open its doors to flyweights continues to intensify. In the meantime, the promotion that filled the WEC’s old home at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino has just bolstered its own 125-pound roster.
Tachi Palace Fights announced Thursday that it has signed a four-fight deal with MMA’s consensus top 125-pound fighter, Jussier “Formiga” da Silva. The unbeaten Brazilian will debut for the promotion against a yet-to-be-named opponent at Tachi Palace Fights 7 on Dec. 2 in Lemoore, Calif.
“We’ve been trying to get ‘Formiga’ for a long time,” Tachi Palace Entertainment Coordinator Jeremy Luchau told Sherdog.com. “We were hoping we could get him to debut for us in May or July, but we had to delay because of the visa issues. We feel like we’ve got it sorted out, and we’re excited to bring in the top flyweight in the world.”
Da Silva, 25, went from obscurity to elite fighter status in July 2009, when he went to Japan to challenge then Shooto world champion Shinichi “BJ” Kojima in a non-title affair. “Formiga” -- “Ant” in Portuguese -- dominated Kojima from bell-to-bell, entrenching himself as the most accomplished fighter in the developing flyweight division.
Since then, da Silva has struggled to secure fights. In June, the Natal native returned to action, defeating Brazil’s other top flyweight standout, Alexandre Pantoja, in the Shooto Brazil ring via unanimous decision.
The 125-pound division has always been a hallmark for Tachi Palace Fights, and its earlier incarnation, the Palace Fighting Championship. The promotion routinely promotes local flyweights and has also brought in unbeaten notables such as Pat Runez and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist wrestler Alexis Vila, as well as Shooto 115-pound world champion Rambaa “M-16” Somdet in the past.
“We were one of the first North American promotions to start having fights with 125-pounders, and we want to continue that,” Luchau explained. “We’ve always tried to get the best international fighters, from Alexis Vila, Pat Runez, Rambaa Somdet, Ulysses Gomez and now Jussier da Silva. We’re always reaching out to international flyweights.”
Luchau indicated to Sherdog.com that two leading candidates to face “Formiga” in his promotional debut are the aforementioned Alexis Vila and WEC veteran Danny Martinez.
“Danny Martinez and Alexis Vila are two guys we’re looking at, because we’ve got contacts with them and they’re great fighters,” he said. “That may change, but we’re looking at putting together something between great, international fighters.”