UFC fighters constantly reference matchmaker Joe Silva when talking about the future of their careers, and yet we usually hear so little about the man who decides so much. Somehow Florida Today caught up with him recently to find out what he’s looking for and what it’s like to choose the guys who fight on MMA’s biggest stage:
“I’m looking for a well-rounded athletic fighter, but the most important thing to me is record,” said Joe Silva, the UFC’s vice president of talent relations. “It’s very frustrating in my job. I don’t look for victims. I pride myself in making competitive matchups.”
“I don’t care what happens in the gym. Lots of people do well in the gym. Going in the cage is a completely different thing, so I want to know how many fights do you have and who did you fight.”
“Did he beat up a bunch of guys who, this was their first fight? Or did he beat up a bunch of guys who had multiple fights and this much experience?”
“(In early MMA) if you had somebody who didn’t understand jiu-jitsu, you could beat them without being much of an athlete. Nowadays, everybody knows. There’s no secret techniques. People know, and they cross-train. Being an athlete quite often is what makes the difference.”
So you’re telling me that in modern MMA I have to not only know my stuff, but also be a great athlete? In other words, it’s like every other major professional sport. So basically I’ve got no chance, is what you’re saying. Well that’s just great.
Of course, we could always take issue with what Silva says are his criteria for choosing fighters and then ask how he decided that Rob Yundt, who had beaten a bunch of nobodies in Alaska, should debut in the UFC against Ricardo Almeida, but we won’t do that. Because even we have to admit that most of the time Silva does a hell of a job.