Bruno Silva burst onto the UFC scene in a big way, banking three straight knockout wins and announcing himself as a future middleweight contender for fans to keep tabs on.
Those victories set Silva up with a bout against the highly touted Alex Pereira earlier this year, and Pereira would go on to hand Silva his first UFC defeat by unanimous decision.
Although the fight didn't go how Silva wished, he knew facing a striker of Pereira's caliber would be a challenge that he could learn from, regardless of the result.
"That defeat didn't change anything for me," Silva said. "He obviously won, but I'm an expert at turning things around. This will be one more time that I need to do that. It wasn't the first time (losing) and unfortunately, it won't be the last."
Since their bout, Pereira has gone on to knock out Sean Strickland and secure a title fight versus Israel Adesanya at UFC 281. The only man that he didn't finish in his six professional victories was Silva. And while many give Silva credit for displaying his toughness in that slugfest with Pereira, the truth is that Silva was out to prove that he could stand with one of the most feared strikers in the sport.
"People associate me with Alex Pereira because of the fight we had. It was a great fight and I'm happy with the performance, but I wanted to win. I didn't go in to survive," Silva said. "I went in to knock him out. It's good that he's fighting for the belt. Alex has his own trajectory and I have mine. Each with his own history and making his own history."
Silva (22-7 MMA, 3-1 UFC) knows that the loss to Pereira didn't slow down his trajectory in the middleweight division. As a matter of fact, his stock only rose from that showing. Next up for "Blindado" is the always dangerous Gerald Meerschaert (34-15 MMA, 9-7 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 41.
It's a matchup that intrigues Silva, mainly due to the fact that Meerschaert holds the record for most submissions by a UFC middleweight.
"I'm going to face a guy with a lot of records. I like this kind of fight," Silva said. "I grow with this opportunity; to fight with fighters with records. The more challenging the better. I like this pressure.
"We have different styles, but I'm confident that I'll shut him down."
With Meerschaert's grappling-heavy style and Silva's desire to earn his fourth UFC knockout, things will definitely be interesting when the two are finally locked in the Octagon on Saturday. In theory, Silva expects Meerschaert to try to grab a hold of him, and that's when he will thwart takedown attempts and find success in the standup game.
"I think this is a fight where he will want to grab me and I will want to beat him up on the feet," Silva laughed. "I can't see a different fight. He's going to want to put me down and I'm going to want to beat him up."
If all goes according to plan for Silva, he will leave San Diego 4-1 in the UFC with four knockout wins. That would set him up perfectly for a big fight to end 2022. And while Silva hopes to secure fights against opponents in the top 15, he isn't concerned with what's next
He knows he's going to reach the top, no matter what.
"A river is made by many water paths and the destination is always the same," Silva said. "One day or another I will reach the belt. It may be next year, ten or thirty years from now. I will get there, and the title will go to my small town."
This story first published at UFC.com.