Considered the best flyweight fighter in the world by many, Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (9-0) earned a solid victory in his U.S. debut tonight, picking up a unanimous decision win over WEC veteran Danny Martinez (13-4) at Tachi Palace Fights 7 in Lemoore, Calif.
Martinez didn’t make things easy for da Silva, who had to work for a couple of minutes before getting a takedown and unleashing his world class grappling skills. Although Martinez fought off the initial takedown attempt, da Silva quickly took Martinez’s back standing in the first of many slick transitions throughout the fight.
From there, da Silva pulled Martinez down and secured a body lock. To Martinez’s credit, he didn’t let da Silva come close to sink in a choke attempt, even standing up with da Silva latched onto his back for over a minute.
The second round saw more of the same. Martinez wasn’t getting brutalized or dominated, but da Silva looked fairly comfortable on the feet and controlled the action positionally. The highlight of that round came after da Silva secured a takedown straight into side control. Da Silva then spun around to the other side and took Martinez’s back when Martinez tried to roll over onto his knees, and the grappling clinic ensured da Silva a 2-0 lead on the scorecards heading into the final round.
Perhaps knowing he had to go in for the kill, Martinez came out more aggressive in the final round, throwing crisp uppercuts and short punches that allowed him to land strikes without giving up the takedown. Then Martinez really went in for the kill, throwing a flying knee that just missed and caused his shin to graze da Silva’s face.
It was a great three minutes for Martinez, but after a scramble, da Silva ended up back on top and predictably moved onto Martinez’s back, once again looking for the choke until the horn sounded. All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for da Silva.
Although da Silva never managed to put Martinez in serious danger, his performance justified his status as a top 125-pound fighter. He showed serviceable striking and well-timed takedowns to go with his grappling skills against a strong opponent who has gone the distance with former WEC title challenger Joseph Benavidez.