Brazil

Belo Horizonte’s Cleiton Silva’s journey from street fights to martial arts

Cleiton Silva (©Brave Combat Federation)

Cleiton Silva (©Brave Combat Federation)

Cleiton “Predator” Silva, 33, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil looks to become the latest Brazilian mixed martial artist to win a world title for Brave Combat Federation. Born and raised in Belo Horizonte, he recently shared his story particularly on how he has turned to martial arts in order to save his own life.

Silva was known in his neighborhood for his short temper and a liking for street fighting. He was always caught in aggressive discussions that often turned into full-blown fights and was on the verge of being caught for real when his mother and uncle intervened by taking him to karate lessons as a last resort.

No one knew what would happen to Silva if a proper teaching of martial arts did not work. But after getting beat up badly in the first few weeks, he kept coming back to the dojo.

Eventually, Silva started to be more responsible, more aware of his own self and less prone to senseless fighting or brawling. A new entity was born on the day he felt secure enough to walk away from street fighting.

“All the energy I had growing up was wrongly directed at street fighting and brawling,” Silva recalled. “I used to fight every day in and out of school. Martial arts redirected that energy. It gave me a purpose.”

When Silva decided that martial arts was not just an outlet but a calling, things turned sour. He faced resistance from his family and friends.

“They are now my biggest supporters but that’s only because I fight for Brave CF,” Silva explained. “Before that, they didn’t want me to fight professionally. They were afraid I couldn’t make a living out of it, and it was hard at first but now they are supportive”.

Everything started to turn for the better when Silva moved on from Muay Thai to mixed martial arts full-time. While he has ceased with any out-of-cage fighting years ago, his style is a reflection of those times.

Cleiton Silva (©Brave Combat Federation)

Cleiton Silva (©Brave Combat Federation)

From Muay Thai to MMA, one thing remained the same and that was Silva’s aggression. Known as one of the most aggressive fighters in the Brave CF roster, he moves forward and throws strikes in the cage and his promotional debut was a testament to that.

Fighting Ahmed “The Butcher” Amir, 28, of Egypt in 2018, Silva moved forward at all times, connected at will and eventually smashed his Egyptian opponent’s nose. In the second round, the Egyptian contender could not take any more damage and the fight was waved off.

At the time, Silva’s white shorts was painted with the blood of his opponent. A photo of the aftermath of the bout became one of the most iconic images in Brave CF history.

Also in 2018, Silva’s next Brave CF bout was in Colombia, which marked his first ever international fight. He fought  Marcelo “Chelo” Bustos, 28, of Argentina.

For Silva, it was an opportunity to showcase his overall skills, which was why he chose to take the fight to the ground instead of engaging in a stand-up war with his dangerous Argentinian opponent. The Belo Horizonte native’s quick submission victory was instrumental in him getting the title shot against reigning Brave CF Lightweight World Champion Luan “Miau” Santiago, 24.

Santiago and Silva will headline “Brave 25” at the Minas Tenis Clube Arena in Belo Horizonte on August 30, 2019. It is a monumental challenge for the challenger but one he is relishing to take on as he is set to fight in front of his family, friends and fans, the same people who did not initially believe in him but are now his biggest supporters.

“It is time to show them why I chose MMA,” Silva declared. “It’s time to become a world champion.”

Here is a clip featuring Silva:

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