Has anyone ever heard of an “MMA baby”? It is very much a thing, but it is not where this story begins.
Joshua Silveira was born and raised in South Florida. A lifelong athlete, he played football in high school. However, after a trip to Brazil during his sophomore year, he got sick and missed the entire fall season. He wasn’t able to return home until winter, right as the wrestling season was kicking off. A seemingly unfortunate turn of events led him down a path that would eventually shape his future, but perhaps his upbringing hinted at this all along.
“My father, [Marcus] ‘Conan’ Silveira, is one of the pioneers of [MMA],” Silveira told Combat Press. “He’s one of the few [Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu] black belts under Carlson Gracie. He received it from the man himself. Jiu-jitsu is something that I always thought was a necessity growing up, because it was just so around me. When I would go to school and meet other kids, they didn’t know what jiu-jitsu was.”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was created out of judo by brothers Carlos and Helio Gracie. Carlson was the eldest son of Carlos, and prior to his passing in 2006, he had awarded black belts to a list of names. This list is highly coveted, and Conan’s name is indeed on it. In BJJ, it is considered a sort of royalty. The elder Silveira was a mixed martial artist who competed in the very early days of the UFC, and he now serves as the head coach of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. Joshua, his son, had enough grappling prowess to immediately make waves on the high school wrestling mat.
“I went to the wrestling room at school with some gym clothes and socks,” Joshua said. “I didn’t have a pair of wrestling shoes. Because of jiu-jitsu, I knew a little bit of judo, and I was just tossing guys around using judo tosses. This wrestling coach, Joe Blasucci, took me under his wing and started taking me around the country [to wrestle] in national tournaments. That’s how I learned to get real, real tough.”
Silveira was well aware of his father’s past and current position in MMA. However, he wasn’t really sure if he wanted to get punched in the face for a living.
“I always knew I wanted to be a fighter, but when I was younger, I would see how bad those guys were getting beat up,” he said. “There is always this little doubt. But, when I turned 16, boom, I wanted to be a fighter. My dad and I started making this game plan 12 years ago.”
After high school, Joshua, who is now 28 years old, ended up at the prestigious wrestling program of Arizona State University under the tutelage of famed coach Zeke Jones. The ASU wrestling program had also produced some high-level MMA veterans like former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and Bellator star Ryan Bader.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2016, Joshua finally had time to begin training in MMA. He started at Bader’s gym, Power MMA & Fitness, but eventually moved to Arizona Combat Sports under head coaches Trevor and Todd Lalley. It was at ACS where Silveira first had some really high-level sparring partners, including Clifford Starks, Matthew Frincu, Kyle Stewart and Tyrell Fortune. He made his amateur debut in October 2016. Within 13 months, he had compiled a 4-0 record, which included two submissions and one knockout.
In 2018, Joshua was ready to take his MMA career to the next level, but he and his dad had an agreement. When he was ready to make his pro debut, his dad would be in his corner and it would be as a member of ATT. That fight took place in August 2019 under the Titan FC banner. By April 2021, he was 5-0 as a pro, with his last three wins coming in the Legacy Fighting Alliance cage.
“When you surround yourself with good, hard-nosed tough guys who want to win, you’re going to morph into one of them,” Silveira said. “The main reason I’m undefeated is the people around me. If I didn’t have the training partners and coaches I’ve had, I don’t know where I’d be.”
Silveira’s next appearance was set to come in the headliner of LFA 110, which takes place tonight, July 2, and airs live on UFC Fight Pass. He was going to meet promotional newcomer Jesse Murray for the light-heavyweight strap.
“I knew I was going to fight for a title, but I didn’t have an opponent,” Silveira explained. “They gave me one guy and then he said he needed more time. Then, the LFA sent me an email with two names: Jesse Murray and another individual. The other individual was first on the list and Jesse was second. I sent an email back saying I’ll take the first one, and if the first one didn’t want it, I’d take the second one. The first one didn’t accept the fight and then Jesse took the fight.
“While Jesse was deciding, there was a third guy ready to go, but he just didn’t have a record that I wanted — I think he was like four and something — and Jesse Murray had that record, that good record, and that looks nice to have that under your belt.”
Unfortunately, with less than a week before the bout, Murray had to pull out with an injury.
“It takes two to tango,” Silveira said. “There’s not much I can do about that. Even when I found out it was off, we still waited a couple days to see if there was a replacement. Nothing to take away from Jesse — I wouldn’t want to fight me if I was injured either.”
Joshua’s dream of becoming an LFA champ and moving to the next level on the sport will have to wait just a little bit longer. He will be ready when the opportunity arises again. In the meantime, life goes on.
“As much as I love the gym, I learned how to get out of the gym and enjoy myself,” Silveira said. “I am originally from Miami, and I have Brazilian parents, so, believe it or not, I’m a flavorful guy. I’ve got a lot of culture. I enjoy the beach and music and hanging out. I try to get myself in fight mode, but enjoy my life too. If you put your life on a timeline, your MMA career is so small, man.”
Silveira was destined to be a fighter from the day he was born. He really was an MMA baby. He knows those roots are there, too.
“Nowadays you see a lot of younger guys growing up in gyms, and they’re considered MMA babies — kids that have been doing everything their whole lives,” Silveira said. “I feel like I was one of the original ones, man. I’m just not out there yet, because I had a college career, and I had to start wrestling. I didn’t start fighting when I was 21, like a lot of these MMA guys do. I might not have a lot of fights, but I have a good feel for the sport and I’m just mentally there.”
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