Brett OkamotoESPN Writer2 minute read
The UFC women’s bantamweight division is in need of new blood following the recent retirement of dominant champion Amanda Nunes – and it appears to have found it in Mayra Bueno Silva.
Silva (10-2-1) submitted former champion Holly Holm (15-7) in the second round of their UFC Fight Night main event on Saturday, via a standing guillotine choke. The finish came after Holm, 41, left her neck exposed as she tried to run Silva down the fence. Silva jumped on it and forced Holm to tap without even taking him to the ground.
The 31-year-old Brazilian fighter then called up Julianna Peña for the vacant 135-pound title.
“I do what I say I’m going to do,” Silva said. “I want this belt. I deserve it. No one ends up like me. Hey, Julianna Peña, let’s go. I deserve it, you deserve it, people deserve it. I’m the new face. I finish fights and give a show for everyone. It’s my belt. It’s Brazil’s belt. I’ll do it for Amanda Nunes, for my country, for everyone.”
It was the biggest win of Silva’s UFC career — and perhaps Holm’s biggest setback.
Holm entered Saturday’s headliner at the Apex as the UFC’s No. 3 ranked bantamweight. Considering her high rank and name value, a win could have catapulted her into a UFC title fight. Four of his previous six UFC losses have come in title fights, and with Nunes’ departure from the sport, Holm was on the verge of a serious title shot very late in his career.
The former boxing champion, however, struggled to implement her game plan on Silva. Holm worked Silva to the fence early in the fight and looked to set up short knees and punches to the body, but Silva didn’t seem bothered by the offense. Once Silva broke free from Holm’s grip, Silva was clearly the more powerful attacker. She tagged Holm with a left hand coming out of the clinch in the first round and followed it up with a hard right elbow.
Silva has finished his last three opponents and is now tied with No. 2-ranked bantamweight Raquel Pennington for the longest active winning streak at four in a row. She also tied the great Ronda Rousey for the most submission wins in women’s bantamweight history with three.
The UFC has not announced any concrete plans for the bantamweight title, which has remained vacant since Nunes’ abrupt retirement last month. Silva joins Peña and Pennington as obvious candidates for the opportunity.
Holm are down to 1-2 in their last three appearances.