Following a brutal 33-second head-kick knockout win over Jimmie Rivera in the main event of UFC Fight Night 131, which took place this past Friday night in Utica, New York, Marlon Moraes is one of the hottest fighters on the UFC roster. The 30-year-old Brazilian has quickly emerged as one of the most exciting fighters on the UFC with back-to-back highlight-reel KO wins over Rivera and Aljamain Sterling, and fans are asking the UFC to reward “Magic” with a title shot against the winner of UFC 227’s TJ Dillashaw vs. Cody Garbrandt 2.
Overall, the former long-time WSOF bantamweight champion is 3-1 in the UFC with the KO wins over Rivera and Sterling, plus a decision win over John Dodson. That’s a resume that on paper should be well deserving of a title shot. The problem is Moraes lost a split decision to Raphael Assuncao in his UFC debut, and Assuncao hasn’t lost since then. In fact, Assuncao has only lost to the champion Dillashaw since moving to bantamweight back in 2011. And despite having a win over Dillashaw, not to mention a brutal KO win over Matthew Lopez in his last fight, Assuncao has never fought for the title. On paper, Assuncao — who fights Rob Font at UFC 226 — has a slight edge over Moraes in regards to who gets the next title shot.
But the truth is, the fans want to see Moraes get the title shot because he’s the more exciting fighter. Even though Moraes lost a close split decision to Assuncao last year, the fans seem okay with passing Assuncao over in favor of Moraes because he’s more likely to give an exciting fight to the winner of Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt. We all know the UFC’s rankings aren’t real anyways, and that the promotion and its matchmakers can put whoever it wants in a title fight. In this situation, I think the UFC sees the obvious, and that’s that Moraes is just a more exciting fighter and one who has the dynamic striking and knockout capability of finishing either Dillashaw or Garbrandt. As good as Assuncao is, he has just never captured the fans’ attention like Moraes is. This sport is all about timing and striking when the iron is hot, and that’s why I believe the UFC will bypass Assuncao and give Moraes the title shot. And I think it’s the right call.
The thought of Moraes going head-to-head against Dillashaw or Garbrandt is exciting as all three men are very capable of knocking out anyone in a split second. Moraes is also really good at talking on the mic, which would help sell the fight against the winner of UFC 227’s main event. Plus, we have to remember his manager is Ali Abdel-Aziz, and he gets his fighters big fights. As much as it sucks to be in Assuncao’s situation as someone who has a recent win over Moraes and who is coming off of a forgotten KO over Lopez, the truth is the fans are just more interested in watching Moraes fight for the belt right now. And I believe the UFC knows this and will go ahead and book him for the title in his next fight, even though on merit maybe Assuncao is slightly more deserving. This is a business, though, and the fans tell the UFC what fights they want. We’ve seen a number of fighters who were more deserving get bypassed for a title shot in the past and I think it happens again here, but at least in this case Moraes could very well be the best bantamweight in the world. We’ll find that out soon, but first we must wait to see what happens at UFC 227.
Do you think Marlon Moraes deserves a UFC bantamweight title shot?