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Mayra Bueno Silva of Brazil poses for a portrait after her victory during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
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Mayra Bueno Silva: The Arrival Of Sheetara

Bantamweight Talks Intense Preparation For First Main Event, Biggest Challenge To Date In Holly Holm

Throughout her relatively short career in combat sports (she had her first pro MMA fight in 2015), there has always been a quick-learner, ahead-of-the-curve energy to Mayra Bueno Silva’s story. For those not paying close attention, it might seem like her first main event this Saturday in Las Vegas arrived out of the blue. For the rest of us, it’s right on schedule.

In just her fourth MMA bout, she won the bantamweight title in the Brazilian promotion Batalha MMA. In her fifth, she was winning a UFC contract on the 2018 iteration of Dana White’s Contender Series. In her sixth, she successfully submitted the fighter who holds the women’s UFC record for submissions: Gillian Robertson.

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The speedbumps so far have been minimal. She dropped decisions to Maryna Moroz and Manon Fiorot, the latter of whom is closing in on a flyweight title shot. Scorecards suggest a fence grab against Montana De La Rosa cost her a win instead of the resulting draw. But, to date, her 10-2-1 record tells the story of a relentless and chronically underestimated force who has never been finished.

Mayra Bueno Silva at the UFC Apex, July 2023 (Photo by Ralston Miller/Zuffa LLC)
(Photo by Ralston Miller/Zuffa LLC)

A step-up in competition was warranted after an impressive three-fight run that toppled Wu Yanan, Stephanie Egger and, most recently, Lina Lansberg. Originally slated to meet Miesha Tate before Tate was injured, Bueno Silva will now find herself sharing the Octagon with another former bantamweight champion: Holly Holm.

She admits she was disappointed by missing the opportunity to test her skills against a fellow grappler and former champion in Tate but was thrilled for the possibility to jump up and take Holm’s coveted No. 3 ranking.

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“It was a gift from God. I'm very happy. I’m very grateful to God for this opportunity to face another former champion and a fighter of her caliber.”

She understands being in striking distance of a title shot doesn’t happen every day and, to that end, she’s been putting in the work to prepare for Holm.

Mayra Bueno Silva | The Ties That Bind
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Mayra Bueno Silva | The Ties That Bind
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“We had a hard time finding a sparring partner to emulate Holly Holm. But today I'm in the biggest gym in the world, American Top Team. They have the best coaches in the world. And Anderson Franca volunteered to be my Holly Holm, so my own coach emulated her.”

The high-level education was warranted for such a high-level opponent.

“I think Holly is definitely the toughest fight of my career. And I also think she’s the toughest fight in this division due to her unorthodox game. She’s unpredictable. But I don’t think she’ll want to strike. I believe she’ll try to do what she’s been doing. Her grappling has improved a lot, so I think that will be her game plan. She’ll try to do some fence work, that type of boring game. But we’re talking about Holly. She can surprise you at any moment. And I must tell you, if there’s anyone that can stop me, that’s Holly Holm. But she won’t stop me.”

Mayra Bueno Silva of Brazil kicks Gillian Robertson of Canada in their women's flyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Ibirapuera Gymnasium on September 22, 2018 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC)
Getting it done vs Robertson in UFC debut, Sept 22, 2018 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC)

She’s also had some support this camp from her friend, compatriot and new UFC flyweight champion: Alexandre Pantoja. She arrived in Vegas early to acclimate to the desert and was present to see him hoist the strap at UFC 290, which furthered her inspiration.

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“We trained together and to see him becoming champion was just amazing. This is a guy that works really hard, a family man. Pantoja is a great champion and I see a lot of myself in him. It gave me that extra push for this fight on Saturday.”

Mayra Bueno Silva Wants To Inspire People | UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Bueno Silva
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Mayra Bueno Silva Wants To Inspire People | UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Bueno Silva
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So deep is her determination to stop “The Preacher’s Daughter” on Saturday that Holm has taken up real estate in the smallest details of Bueno Silva’s life outside the gym, including changing  the home screen on her cell phone to a photo of Holm. She says it keeps her mind on the task ahead.

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“I look and see how special this moment is for me. How much I’ve trained and worked hard to be here today. We’re also talking about Holly Holm, so I work on my mental game so I can think, ‘Ok, this is Holly, but I’m Sheetara.’”

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UFC Fight Night: Holm vs Bueno Silva took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 15, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!