After closing out his 2015 with a win in his Bellator debut, flyweight up and comer Josh Paiva kicked off his 2016 in similar fashion by defeating Michael Nakagawa at Dragon House 22 in February.
For Paiva, the win over Nakagawa was his third in a row, even though at one time it looked like the fight might have slipped away from him.
“(Nakagawa) had a really good wrestling background, and that was cool because it matched mine, but in actuality, at 125lbs, I don’t think anybody in the world can hold me down,” Paiva told MAWeekly.com. “I felt I was going to be comfortable anywhere in the fight, and that’s pretty much how I approached the fight with him.
“There was a point and time where he had me in trouble, but I was able to weather the storm and get the finish anyway.”
Even with the winning streak, Paiva believes he’s still very much developing as a fighter and hasn’t yet reached his peak.
“I’m building a lot of momentum and I’ve been noticing things coming together more,” said Paiva. “Techniques that I’ve been successful with in the past coming back, and it’s process of learning and relearning. It’s been a journey of discovery.”
Paiva (7-1) will look to add to his winning streak when he takes on Steve Gruber (5-2) in a 125-pound bout at Bellator 154 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.
“I would expect him to bring his best, but I don’t see him having any strengths over me,” said Paiva of Gruber. “The way I see this fight, I see myself being comfortable anywhere in this fight. I’m ready to give him my all and let him feel me.”
After establishing himself with Bellator, Paiva hopes the company will further support the flyweight division and give him an opportunity to showcase his skills against the best competition he can.
“I hope to convince Bellator to open the 125-pound division up,” Paiva said. “I’m ready to take on the best 125-pound fighters in the world. I’m ready for whatever comes my way. I’ve conquered many obstacles in my past, and this is just another problem for me to solve.”