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UFC welterweight Claudio Silva fighting hunger in native Brazil

UFC welterweight Claudio Silva, a longtime resident of England, returned to his native Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it was there he found a new life mission.

“I was training here in Rio de Janeiro because I couldn’t go back to London because of COVID,” Silva told MMA Junkie. “Every day I was walking to the gym, I noticed kids, men and women, elderly people, all trying to find food in the trash bins. It made me feel so sad. How come I can eat everyday, and these people, they have to struggle to find food? When I saw it, I felt like a coward.

“I have a big platform that is the UFC. I have followers on social media. I know people all around the world. I was like, ‘I have to do something. I must do something.’ I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t do something.”

And so Silva started posting messages on his Instagram page, outlining his plans. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and six-time UFC veteran wasn’t content just giving money to charity. He wanted to be directly involved in making a difference in someone’s life.

“I’m not going to collect the donations and give to someone that I don’t know,” Silva said. “I don’t know where the food goes. I prefer for myself to get the money, buy the food and go to the slums myself and give them to their hands, to the people in need, so that’s what I did. I know it’s a drop in the ocean, but it showed me how blessed I am, how many friends I have.”

Silva’s sponsors at California Canna, Clonnabis and The Happy Vaper Cafe pitched in resources, as well, and he was able to collect enough food to help 400 families. While Silva, 38, said he also grew from humble beginnings, he said the situation for many in Brazil right now was shocking even to him.

“I went to the slums, and I saw little kids that don’t have water, don’t have toilets,” Silva said. “The only water they have is like water from the rain. They don’t have anything. It was a big shock to me. I grew up in a slum. I grew up in a bad place, but I always had food. But when you see people that don’t have a toilet, they don’t have water, they don’t have food, that’s so bad.”

Silva (14-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC), who returns to the cage later this month at UFC Fight Night 188, said he hopes to set up a formal foundation in the future and dedicate his life to the cause. For now, he does have a GoFundMe campaign set up to help raise funds for another round of food distribution.

“This is something that I really want to work on all the time now,” Silva said. “I think besides fighting, I have a good gift, that is being in the UFC, being a UFC fighter, and being on a big platform. I know I can change lives. I know I can bring food to families in need. I’m fighting against hunger.

“To do good things, it’s never a waste of time.”

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