Challenger Michel “Sassarito” Silva Is on a mission to take the M-1 Challenge lightweight title belt from undefeated defending champion Roman Bogatov on January 26, in the main event of the celebrated WKG & M-1 Challenge 100, being held in Harbin, China.
Silva (22-7-1, M-1: 3-2-0) is the latest in the long line of powerful Brazilian strikers. He has stopped 15 of his opponents by knockout, but two of his last three fights were won by submission, all in M-1 competition, to position himself for his first M-1 title challenge.
Bogatov (7-0-0, M-1: 6-0-0), a Russian submission master, captured his coveted title belt last September at M-1 Challenge 97, when he decisioned Rubenilton Pereira.
Silva recently stepped into The Rage for a one-on-one interview:
Michel, congratulations on your upcoming title fight. Did you know that you would get your title shot after you won your last fight?
MS: “I’m very excited to fight for the title and the championship belt gives me huge motivation. After I won the last fight, I was hoping that the promotion would give me my title shot, and now I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.”
You started your way in M-1 Global with two loses. How did you recover and made it all the way to the top of the division?
MS: “After two loses, I knew I had to change something. I moved to another city, joined Evolucao Thai team, and evolved as a fighter. Now, I am a part of a great team and as a result of our efforts, I have three consecutive victories and soon I’m going to add a belt to the collection of my achievements.”
Before your current win streak, you had never won by submission. What has changed since then?
MS: “Of course, I prefer stand-up fighting. I enjoy it very much, but I’m also not a beginner in BJJ. Actually, I’m a BJJ black belt of the 1st degree and in Evolucao Thai, coaches helped me to improve my ground game even more. So, as a result, I won two of my last three fights by submission.”
You are the tallest lightweight on the roster of the promotion. Is it difficult for you to make 70 kg (154 lbs.) being 188 cm (6’2″) tall?
MS: “Weight cutting is not a problem for me. I just need a three-week diet to fight as a lightweight and I know I can also be successful in other divisions, either 77 (170 lbs.) or 66 kg. (145 lbs.) If I suffer a bit more during the weight cut, I can make 66 kg and fight the best opponents in the featherweight division.”
Some people think that Roman Bogatov is going to have an advantage in wrestling and your advantage is going to be your striking. Do you agree?
MS: “Bogatov has solid wrestling skills, but I’m confident in my BJJ and I know I can make him tap-out. In the stand-up game, the advantage will also be on my side. I have 200 cm (78 ½ inches) reach, so I’ll be able to control him. I already added the first loss to the records of two unbeaten Russian prospects in my last two fights and I’m going to do the same thing with my next opponent. I’m going to finishing him and capture the belt in China on January 26th!”
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