Brandon Moreno Recalls Pressure Of Being First Mexican-Born UFC Champion

Brandon Moreno has detailed how his status as the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion was a significant source of pressure before his title defense at UFC 270.

“The Assassin Baby” is coming off a third-round stoppage victory over Kai Kara-France that saw him claim the UFC’s interim flyweight title, and now he’s set to try and unify the flyweight belts when he faces Deiveson Figueiredo for a fourth time at UFC 283.

It’s rare to see two fighters face each other on four occasions in any combat sport, but so far the rivalry between Moreno and Figueiredo is a dead heat after three action-packed fights. Their first meeting in 2020 ended in a majority draw after Figueiredo was docked a point for a groin strike, and their second fight saw Moreno claim the flyweight title with a third-round submission.

That win at UFC 263 made Moreno the first Mexican-born champion in the history of the UFC, which is apparently a distinction that the 29-year-old did not take lightly. In fact, “The Assassin Baby” says the sense of responsibility to his country weighed heavily on him before defending his title against Figueiredo at UFC 270.

Moreno Felt Pressure Of Building MMA In Mexico

The series between Moreno and Figueiredo was evened out in their third meeting at UFC 270 when “Deus da Guerra” won a unanimous decision in one of the best fights of 2022.

Moreno recently sat down with ESPN MMA’s Brett Okamoto to discuss his fourth fight with Figueiredo, and the 29-year-old gave an honest answer when asked if any of the pressure in his third fight with the Brazilian came from being the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion.

Moreno won the flyweight title at UFC 263. (Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“Yeah, I mean, I think that was a huge part,” Moreno answered. “It’s a crazy responsibility, and maybe for a champion from the United States — of course, it’s something huge, something important because you are the champion of the world, but man, being the champion of the world from a country where mixed martial arts is not the main sport… Mixed martial arts is (still) working to build something in Mexico. So, yes, maybe yes. If I think about it, that was a huge part too. But again, I can do it. I just needed experience.”

Figueiredo may carry some momentum from having won the most recent bout between the two, but the 35-year-old hasn’t competed since reclaiming the title at UFC 270. Moreno stayed busy by ending Kara-France’s three-fight winning streak with a liver kick in July, so “The Assassin Baby” may well feel like he’s the sharper fighter ahead of his next meeting with the Brazilian.

Moreno will have the added pressure of competing in enemy territory at UFC 283, which will be the promotion’s first event in Brazil since 2020. The card is loaded with Brazilian talent that includes Figueiredo defending his title in the co-main event, and the event’s headlining fight will see former light heavyweight champion Glover Texeira try to claim the division’s vacant title in a matchup with Jamahal Hill.

What do you think of Moreno’s comments about feeling pressure as the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion before his third fight with Figueiredo?