Mayra Bueno Silva coach happy to win back Amanda Nunes’ old UFC belt for ATT: ‘It’s very special’

Amanda Nunes joined American Top Team to climb the bantamweight rankings and claim UFC gold, and now it’s time for the ATT talent Mayra Bueno Silva to chase that dream.

Silva faces off against Raquel Pennington for the 135-pound championship in Saturday’s UFC 297 co-main event in Toronto, chasing a belt that was left vacant following Nunes’ retirement in 2023. Nunes had already parted ways with ATT in the final years of her MMA career and started her own team in Florida, so for ATT coach Marcos “Parrumpinha” DaMatta, it feels good to compete for a familiar championship one more time.

“It’s special for me, it’s special for American Top Team,” DaMatta said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast. “It’s a belt that was ours for a long time. Amanda lost it to Julianna [Peña] and then won it back, she opened her own team and everything, but it’s something special, mainly for me, to help bring that belt back for our team. It’s very special.”

Pennington vs. Silva almost never came to fruition, however, because the Brazilian tested positive for ADHD medication ritalinic acid. While the UFC’s former drug-testing partner USADA did not suspend Silva, the Nevada Athletic Commission hit her with a 4.5-month ban.

“She’s very strong mentally,” DaMatta said of Silva. “We knew she didn’t do anything wrong. She’s taken that medication since she was 10 years old, it’s not something she started taking now that she’s in the UFC. Quite the opposite, she used that way before she started fighting. USADA knew it, USADA tested her, and USADA had no problem with that, but the commission did?

“The UFC saw it, and I have to go down on my knees to thank [UFC Chief Business Officer] Hunter Campbell, because this guy was the one who said, ‘I’ll fight for her. I know she didn’t do anything wrong. I won’t remove her from the rankings, and I’ll work with the commission toward our goal, which is have her fighting Julianna Peña for the belt in early 2024.’”

Silva’s submission victory over Holly Holm was overturned to a no-contest due to the drug-testing failure, but she was still awarded a title shot. “Parrumpinha” said the bantamweight contender is “a warrior,” and they’re confident that Silva will join teammate Alexandre Pantoja among the ranks of UFC champions this weekend in Toronto.

“We have high expectations, man,” DaMatta said. “I’m very careful with everything I say, I’m an extremely superstitious person, so I don’t like to count the win and say, ‘She’s the favorite,’ none of that. When you’re in there, there are two people with equal chances to win. What makes someone an odds-on favorite is other people betting on one or the other. We’re confident going into this fight, excellent energy. She’s had a wonderful training camp and we did everything we had to do.”

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