Marlon Moraes is one of the best bantamweights outside of the UFC, and he almost gave up on fighting MMA a few years ago.
Born in Nova Friburgo, a small city located 90 miles away from Rio de Janeiro, Moraes wasn’t as good as he is today. In fact, he even struggled to have a good training camp for his MMA fights.
Before he decided to move to the United States, Moraes had a 4-2-1 record while competing in regional shows in Brazil, and he considered leaving the sport.
"I used to train at Nova Friburgo and twice a week at Nova Uniao gym in Rio de Janeiro," Moraes told MMAFighting.com. "Unfortunately, I never had the chance to spend a whole week to train at Nova Uniao."
"I had tough moments," he said. "I wasn’t doing great in MMA but I fought and won some muay thai tournaments. I had to decide, should I just fight muay thai or keep fighting MMA? I considered leaving MMA for muay thai, but at the same time I always sparred with good MMA fights and did great, so I saw I had potential. Something was missing, but I don’t feel that anymore."
Moraes had to do something to get back to winning fights, so he decided to move to the United States. At first, the change showed some results as he won his first couple fights outside of Brazil with two submissions. However, a pair of losses forced him to change his life once again.
"I came to the U.S. two and a half years ago," he said. "I had the opportunity to train and teach here. My career wasn’t good in Brazil so I decided to take the risk.
"We always come to the U.S. thinking that it will be a lot easier than it was in Brazil, but it was even harder. The fighters here are prepared, good in wrestling. Most of the Brazilian fighters are ready to stand and bang, but they are not ready to be taken down and get back up all the time. But now that I’m training in a great team I feel ready for everything."
The bantamweight moved to New Jersey to train with UFC veteran Ricardo Almeida and his team, and a new Moraes was born.
"I started to believe more in myself and kept training hard," he said. "There’s no secret, You need to keep training to evolve and that’s what I did. I never gave up. I had every reason to stop fighting. A career with ups and downs, losses, but I believed in myself and kept going. And it worked. My career has changed completely and now I feel comfortable inside the cage."
Moraes has won five straight, including wins over Miguel Torres and Tyson Nam. He returns to the World Series of Fighting cage on Oct. 26 against Carson Beebe, younger brother of WEC veteran Chase Beebe, and wants another win to his record.
"My camp was excellent and I’m feeling great," Moraes said. "I had some small foot injuries after my last fight but I’m 100 percent now. I’m ready to go there and fight. I became a better fight every day in this camp."
"My opponent is a tough guy," he continued. "He has a good wrestling. He also has a good stand up game but he basically uses that to set up his takedowns. He’s good on the ground but I’m ready to fight him wherever the fight goes. I’ll mix it up and be unpredictable. Anything can happen in this fight."
At 3-0 under the WSOF banner, Moraes wants to be the promotion’s first bantamweight champion after he beats Beebe.
"I’m really motivated, like I’ve never been before in my whole career," he said. "I’ll be the happiest guy in the world when I step in that cage. I believe that I’ll fight for the title after this fight. I always train focused in my next fight, of course, but I’m ready to go five rounds. Sooner or later I’ll get there. It’s a dream for me to fight for a title and my time will come.
"It’s great to fight for WSOF. My fights air on NBC, I have nothing else to say about them. It’s great. They are one of the best promotions in the world. I’m really happy and motivated to compete there."
Mores feels great to be part of the WSOF, but his goal is to be in the UFC one day.
"Every fighter dreams with the UFC," he said. "You even see kids saying that they want to fight in the UFC. It’s not ‘I want to fight MMA’, it’s ‘I want to fight UFC’. UFC is the big deal today and it’s a dream to me. I believe I’m ready to go against these guys (in the UFC). I want to go where the best fighters in the world are. If the best are in the UFC, that’s where I want to be."