Marlon Moraes has a title fight coming up, and he has bigger goals for his future in MMA.
Riding a six-fight win streak with wins over the likes of Miguel Torres, Tyson Nam and Carson Beebe, the Brazilian is set to take on Josh Rettinghouse for the vacant World Series of Fighting bantamweight championship on March 29 in Las Vegas, Nev..
WSOF executive vice president and matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz believes that Moraes not only is the best talent on the WSOF roster, but that he’s the No. 1 bantamweight in MMA today.
"I believe Marlon is the best 135 in the world right now," Abdel-Aziz told MMAFighting.com. "I think, talent-wise, he’s the best talent in World Series of Fighting now. Marlon is one of the biggest stars we have. He always put on a great show.
"This time, Marlon is fighting for the title in a five-round fight against a very tough fighter. This guy is giving Marlon a hard time. This is going to be the best fight of the night."
Moraes looked unstoppable inside the WSOF cage with two first-round knockouts in four bouts, and he eyes bigger challenges.
"I want to win the WSOF title first," Moraes told MMAFighting.com. "But if (Ali) thinks that (I’m the best), he should let me fight the UFC champion next because, in my opinion, the UFC champion is the best in the world.
"I have a few more fights in my contract, so we need to see what happens," he continued. "At the end of the day, it’s up to them. I believe in them. WSOF made all my dreams come true, and I hope they continue to do that."
"It’s not up to me," he said. "But if you talk about dreams, I believe it would be my dream (to fight for the UFC title)."
"Whatever Marlon wants for his career, nobody should go against his dream," Abdel-Aziz said of Moares' request. "Marlon has a contract and after his contract is over Marlon can do whatever he wanna do. Marlon has two more fights with World Series. After that, we won’t hold guys back like Bellator."
"If the UFC calls me tomorrow ‘listen, we want Marlon to fight for the championship’, I think we’ll let him fight the UFC champion," he continued. "We want the best for Marlon. "
Moraes and Barao trained together at Nova Uniao in the past, when the WSOF talent lived in Rio de Janeiro. Moraes has evolved a lot since moving to the United States, and is confident that he would win the UFC title.
"We trained together, but it was a long time ago," Moraes said. "He changed, I changed. Barao has evolved a lot in many aspects of the game. He was a jiu-jitsu fighter who became a striker. He’s the best in the world, but I’m learning and feeling more confident now. I would like to fight him. I feel ready. I have my weapons and I believe they would work against him."
Moraes eyes a shot at Barao, but that doesn’t mean he’s looking past Rettinghouse.
A 10-2 bantamweight from Spokane, Washington, Rettinghouse has only gone the distance twice in his MMA career. In his WSOF debut, "The Finisher" defeated Bellator veteran Alexis Vila via decision, and Moraes is aware of his talent.
"This guy is tough," he said. "This kid is ready to fight, he’s really dangerous. He has good takedowns, striking and ground game, but I’m ready for everything. I wanna show what I can do and that I deserve the title.
"Fighting for the title gives me more motivation. We always fight to win, and not I have a symbol to fight for. I’m training hard because I want to get out of there with the win and the belt."