There are several factors that play into fighters establishing themselves in mixed martial arts. Finding success inside the cage is ultimately the biggest requirement, but captivating the fanbase with an exciting style can serve to hasten the process exponentially.
While Erick Silva has dabbled in the win column during his brief time under the UFC banner, the flashy Brazilian striker has certainly delivered where entertainment value is concerned. The Team Nogueira fighter blasted onto the sport's biggest stage in late 2011 and made his presence felt at the expense of Louis Ramos at UFC 134. Silva flushed his fellow Brazilian with a flurry in the early goings of the bout and secured a successful Octagon debut with less than a full minute of work inside the cage.
The 29-year-old's next outing was equally as brutal as he smashed out Carlos Prater with an even quicker performance.
That said, Silva's onslaught at the finish included multiple shots to the back of Prater's head, which resulted in a disqualification and a loss on his record. He would get things back on track in a big way in his next showing against Charlie Brenneman as Silva rocked "The Spaniard" with a big shot then finished him off with a rear-naked choke to secure the victory.
With three strong performances, a solid amount of buzz formed around Silva, and he appeared to be lined up to be the "next big thing" in the welterweight ranks. Yet, the surging prospect had to get through former title challenger Jon Fitch if he was going to materialize into a contender, and the gritty AKA product proved to be too much when they battled it out at UFC 153 in 2012.
While Silva would bounce back in his next fight with a highlight-reel submission finish of Jason High at UFC on Fuel TV 10, a stunning knockout suffered at the hands of Dong Hyun Kim once again put his momentum on ice.
With the ultra-competitive nature of the welterweight division, chances to make strides up the ladder come in limited supply, and it is a rare thing to see a once-touted prospect regain his composure and resume his climb. Nevertheless, Silva was determined to do exactly that and took a strong step toward that goal when his most recent outing resulted in a lightning-quick drubbing of Takenori Sato back in February.
On that night in Jaragua do Sul, it only took Silva 52 seconds to remind the MMA fanbase just how dangerous he can be inside the cage. While there may be expectations surrounding him, Silva pays no mind to those distractions and keeps his focus on matters close to his heart.
"I don't feel pressure to prove anything to anyone," Silva told Bleacher Report with the assistance of a translator. "I love to fight and that is what motivates me. I work every day to become a better fighter, and I really want to show my progress inside the cage. I fight with a lot of passion. When I'm going into a fight I think about my family and my son, and that gives me motivation to go out there and be the best I can be."
The win over Ramos proved to be a substantial one as it earned him the opportunity to face surging contender Matt Brown in the main event at Fight Night 40. The two men will square off this weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, and for Silva, it is the perfect opportunity for him to turn in his prospect tag once and for all and prove he can be a major player in the welterweight ranks.
"The Immortal" has collected six consecutive victories inside the Octagon, and if Silva is able to put that streak on ice, he will find himself knocking on the door of the elite level of the division.
"I'm very motivated for this fight and very happy to be fighting in my first main event," Silva said. "I hope to show the UFC they made the right choice by putting me in that position. To know the fans and the UFC appreciate the way I fight motivates me even more. It pushes me to fight better every day, and I hope to continue to put on performances that will keep people excited to watch me fight.
"We are both very aggressive fighters, and I think the fight will be determined by who studied the other guy better and who is able to find flaws. I studied him a lot. I watched his fights, and I think I'm going to find the space and opportunities I need in this fight to beat him."
While both Silva and Brown bring hard-charging styles into the Octagon, there are notable differences between their respective attacks. The Ohio native has found success by working a mixture of muay thai, dirty boxing and non-stop forward pressure, which has proved to be overwhelming to a collection of his past opponents.
Although Silva also prefers the action to be kept on the feet, his approach is of a different variety.
The Brazilian uses a unique blend of speed and accuracy to close the distance and has finished opponents who believed they were at a safe range prior to his blitz attack. Silva's ability to find opportunity and employ his killer instinct is a mixture of techniques forged through training and natural talent, and he intends to put those skills on display this weekend at Fight Night 40.
"I'm a very aggressive and explosive fighter," Silva said. "There are times in the fight where I can visualize the perfect strike or my opponent gives me the right amount of space for me to land a powerful striker that will either put them down or finish the fight. My goal is always to finish the fight as quickly as possible. I always train to make sure I'm ready to go three rounds or 25 minutes if I have to, but I go out there looking to finish the fight as fast as I can and I'll be looking to do that in this fight as well."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.