Natalia Silva expects her teammate Paulo Costa to score a statement win in his return fight against Robert Whittaker. “Borrachinha” meets the former champion on Feb. 17 in the co-main event of UFC 298 in Anaheim, Calif., and Silva sees Costa scoring his first knockout finish since a 2018 drubbing of Uriah Hall.
“If I were going to put my money on it,” Silva said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast, “I believe in a victory by knockout.”
Costa has only competed twice in the UFC since challenging Israel Adesanya for the middleweight title in Abu Dhabi back in September 2020, losing to Marvin Vettori in a catchweight contest before rebounding with a decision win over Luke Rockhold, the latter of which took place more than 17 months ago.
“Everybody is anxious to see him back,” Silva said. “Paulo is a very strong athlete and always puts on good fights, so we’re always expecting the best. I’m rooting for him, and looking forward to seeing him back. Unfortunately, he suffered an injury last time and couldn’t fight.”
“He was super excited for that fight so it was a very difficult moment for him,” Silva said. “He really wanted that fight. In fact, he was still willing to fight [despite the injury], but now he’s 100 percent again. I believe it’s going to be an incredible fight.”
Meanwhile, Silva looks for her fifth octagon victory when she meets Araujo on Saturday. Silva has won four straight over a span of 14 months, with finishes of Tereza Bleda and Victoria Leonardo, and defeated Andrea Lee via decision in her most recent appearance.
“[This fight] symbolizes another step toward my goal of becoming champion,” Silva said. “Viviane is a super tough athlete and I’m happy to be able to do this fight. I’ve trained so hard because I know it’s going to be a tough fight. This victory gets me closer to my goal, so it’s another step for me. I know it’s going to be a tough fight, but I’m prepared for it.”
Silva declined to predict how she gets the job done, but isn’t taking anything for granted against an opponent like Araujo, who has lost three of her past five UFC bouts.
“When we go to a fight, everything we’ve done stays in the past,” Silva said. “All your wins, all your losses. We’re 0-0 in there, it’s a new game. I’ve trained and gave my all to win. If she’s under pressure or not, I’m not thinking about that. I’m going there to fight, to show the same Natalia Silva that fights with all her heart for the victory.”