Following three wins to start off his career, up-and-comer Josh Paiva took his biggest step forward this past August when he claimed the King of the Cage junior flyweight championship with a fourth-round knockout of fellow top prospect Zach Lari.
The win has put Pavia in an interesting point in his career, as he’s still a developing fighter, but also a champion who must defend his title.
“This is like a huge turning point, I think,” said Paiva. “I’m under a lot of pressure because I’m undefeated and have a title that people want. But at the same time, I work well under pressure.”
Having essentially lived out of a suitcase until recently due to a job that has him on the road much of the time, Paiva was able to settle down lately, and it is because of that he feels he’s improved as he starts this next chapter in his career.
“Everything just started synchronizing and everything was on point because I found harmony in my lifestyle and training after getting a place to stay,” he said. “It’s made me stronger and better.
“I’ve been satisfied with my performances. I can feel myself getting stronger throughout the fights.”
Paiva (4-0) will have an opportunity to defend his title for the first time on Nov. 30 in Orville, Calif., against former Strikeforce veteran Anthony Figueroa (8-7-1) in what could be his toughest challenge to date.
“Anthony is potentially dangerous to me,” said Paiva. “He has decent striking and wrestling and I’m sure his ground game has come along by now as well, so he’s pretty versatile. He’s very experienced, having fought for seven years now, so he’s definitely an opponent that despite his record, I have to take seriously.
“I have to take advantage of certain habits he has. I also see myself giving him more pressure than he’s ever seen.”
Paiva feels this win could be a big building block for him as he goes into next year. Still, with his success, he’s keen to take things slowly and make sure he continues his development as a fighter.
“(Figueroa) is well-respected and very experienced, so to defeat him would be a huge thing to step up onto,” said Paiva.
“I’m kind of a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. I’ll take it one fight at a time. I’ll have challengers and I’ll fight as much as I can, but at the same time I’ll try not to spread myself too thin.”
(Photo courtesy of King of the Cage and Monstro Photography)