Joshua Silveira Envisions Beating Multiple Former Champs En Route to PFL Title

Joshua Silveira isn’t leaving anything to chance.

The American Top Team export arrived in Salt Lake City more than a week ahead of his PFL 5 encounter with Rob Wilkinson in order to get acclimated to the Utah capital’s 4,265 feet of elevation.

“I know Rob trains out of Colorado, so I had to give myself that same type of elevation workout,” Silvera said during PFL media day. “We’re high up in the mountains. I’m from Florida. You’re like 100 feet above sea level [there]. I’m not used to 5,000 feet, but I came out early, [to] be responsible. We’re at the top level here, so I want to be responsible. I made my investment.”

One of the advantages of training at American Top Team is that Silveira can call upon a whole stable of training partners who have experienced fighting at elevation. Silveira took advantage of that knowledge and put it to use.

“At the end of the day, it’s science. I wasn’t gonna find out on fight night,” Silveira said. “But it’s a big deal. I’ve had teammates fight out here, too … That’s the beauty about American Top Team. You’ve got so much knowledge there. Every person told me: Go out earlier. Just bring a teammate with you. You’ve don’t got to get too crazy with the training. They actually said you get acclimated in your sleep. I just came out here, did my work, did a lot of running and it’s beautiful anyways. It was a good getaway. Utah’s amazing. It was a big part of my training. Something different. But I’m willing to try whatever.”

Silveira enters PFL 5 in prime position after earning a 74-second stoppage of Sadibou Sy in his first regular season bout. Though the ending was anticlimactic — Sy dislocated his thumb while being taken down — it allows Silveira to advance to the next phase of the PFL season in relatively good health.

“Coninha” had mixed feelings about it all.

“Initially, a part of me felt like I’m a f—-ing bad man, but I’m a horrible dude, in a sense. Why did I do that? At some point I’ve just got to let it be and appreciate what happened,” Silveira said. “I didn’t do anything illegal. Obviously it sucks for Sadibou. His thumb went out of place. I’ll even give him the benefit of the doubt. If the MMA gods could have given him 30 seconds to figure out his decision, he probably would have still fought.

“For me, with the format — beautiful. Six points, no damage. I’m kind of back where I was last year with the six points. I’ll take it. But the MMA warrior was like, I wanted to show you guys my improvements, my mentality, where I’ve come from — losing the finals [in 2023] to this new season. It’s a weird world out here, and I’ll take it.”

Sy was a defending PFL champion at welterweight who moved up two divisions to test his mettle. Now, Silveira will take on Wilkinson, who had a breakout campaign in 2022 to become PFL light heavyweight champion. There’s a possibility that he could also face other ex-PFL champs such as Antonio Carlos Jr. or Impa Kasanganay down the line.

“This is gonna be a year where, I have a feeling, this is not the last previous world champion I have to fight,” Silveira said. “In my mind, I’m gonna have to fight a couple world champions to have to get to the finals, and who knows, I might fight a previous world champion in the finals. I would love to do that in this organization: Beat four previous champions or three, whatever the case comes. To go win a belt, man, that’d be amazing.”

Silveira had a clear-cut game plan in mind for his showdown with Sy, who has struggled against wrestling-minded foes in the past. Despite winning the majority of his PFL fights via KO or TKO, Silveira knows Wilkinson is a little more well-rounded.

“We’re gonna go to the fight and figure out how to get our hand raised — whether I’m kicking him in the head or I’m taking him down, choking him out or I’m just beating him by decision,” Silveira said. “… This is an interesting fight. I’m not gonna go force anything. I’m gonna do what’s presented to me. All I know is I’m not gonna let him bully me like he does other guys. I’m gonna push him back, meet him in the middle. We’re gonna get after it. This is a good fight to put my name on the map, for sure.”

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Oumar Kane