This Saturday night in the main event at UFC 238, Marlon Moraes takes on Henry Cejudo for the vacant UFC bantamweight title. Below, Adam Martin takes a look at the top 5 moments of Moraes’ MMA career.
- Marlon Moraes def. Raphael Assuncao via Submission, UFC Fight Night 144
In Moraes’ UFC debut, he was paired against perennial bantamweight contender Raphael Assuncao and lost a close split decision to his fellow countryman at UFC 212 in Brazil. Following three straight wins over Jimmie Rivera, Aljamain Sterling and John Dodson, Moraes earned a rematch with Assuncao and made good on it. This time around, the fight wasn’t even close and the judges weren’t needed. In the main event of UFC Fight Night 144, Moraes made quick work of Assuncao by knocking him down to the ground and finishing off with a guillotine choke in the very first round. It was the victory that earned Moraes a shot at the vacant UFC bantamweight belt this weekend at UFC 238 against Cejudo, after former bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw vacated the title after USADA busted him.
2.Marlon Moraes def. Jimmie Rivera via KO, UFC Fight Night 131
Before earning the rematch with Assuncao, Moraes got his first opportunity to headline a UFC card when he fought Jimmie Rivera at UFC Fight Night 131. At the time it was the biggest step up of Moraes’ career against a fighter on a 20-fight win streak, and Rivera was the betting favorite heading into the bout. But Moraes showed how talented he truly is when he needed just 33 seconds to brutally finish Rivera with a head kick and punches, which earned him a No. 1 contender’s bout against Assuncao his very next fight.
3. Marlon Moraes def. Aljamain Sterling via KO, UFC Fight Night 123
The first finish of Moraes’ UFC career came against Aljamain Sterling at UFC Fight Night 123, and it was the victory that really showed the fans and the UFC brass that Moraes is one of the best fighters in the world at 135lbs. Coming off of a split decision loss to Raphael Assuncao and a split decision win over John Dodson, Moraes really needed a fight where he showed the killer instinct he did during his WSOF run. He did just that when he needed 67 seconds to knock Sterling out with a devastating knee, a victory that earned Moraes his first UFC main event against Rivera.
4. Marlon Moraes def. Miguel Torres via Split Decision, WSOF 1
The breakthrough performance of Moraes’ career came back at WSOF 1, when a little-known Moraes defeated UFC and WEC veteran Miguel Torres by split decision. Very few knew who Moraes was at the time as he was just a 7-4-1 fighter who fought on local regional shows like Ring of Combat and XFC. Not surprisingly, he was a huge underdog against Torres, who was a former long-time bantamweight champ in the WEC. But Moraes wasn’t having any of that and he went in there and beat Torres when everyone was counting him out. The win over Torres in 2012 put Moraes on the map as a major player in the bantamweight division, and he hasn’t looked back since.
5. Marlon Moraes def. Josh Rettinghouse via Unanimous Decision, WSOF 5
And finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without Moraes’ unanimous decision win over Josh Rettinghouse at WSOF 5, which earned him the inaugural WSOF bantamweight title back in 2014. The win proved that Moraes could be a champion in a major MMA organization, and he later went on to defend the WSOF title five more times before the UFC scooped him up when WSOF became PFL.
What do you think was the top moment of Marlon Moraes’ MMA career?