Marlon Moraes is one of the best bantamweights on the planet, but he won’t call himself the best.
Unbeaten over the past seven fights, five under the World Series of Fighting, the Rio de Janeiro native won the WSOF bantamweight championship with a one-sided victory over Josh Rettinghouse in March, and welcomes the opportunity to face the best 135-pounders out there.
"I can’t call myself the best in the world. I can fight the best, but call myself the best? I wouldn’t say that. But I’m a tough fight for anyone in the world," Moraes told MMAFighting.com.
Scheduled to headline the WSOF 13 card against Cody Bollinger in a 140-pound, non-title catchweight bout in Bethlehem, Penn., on Saturday night, Moraes says he could be the one to bring the UFC 135-pound title back to Brazil in the future.
"(T.J. Dillashaw) is a good fighter, but I see a lot of holes in his game," Moraes said of the UFC bantamweight champion. "Anything can happen. It’s a five-round fight,and I see holes in his game, as I know I have holes in my game. But we won’t know for sure until we get in there to fight."
"I see Barao as a better fighter than (Dillashaw), but he mixes his boxing and wrestling up pretty well and it’s confusing," he continued. "You have to stop him from moving around. He did a good fight against (Joe) Soto, but I don’t know if he would have beaten Barao in that fight. Barao is way more well-rounded and stronger than Soto."
Moraes says Dillashaw "is the UFC champion, so he’s the best in the world today," but is far from unbeatable.
"I see a lot of great fighters in this division, and I’m sure this title won’t stay in the United States for too long," he said. "We have a lot of great Brazilian fighters doing well, and I’m sure a Brazilian will win this title. Barao, Raphael Assuncao, Iuri Alcantara, Eduardo Dantas or me. Brazil has great talent in this division, so I’m sure this title will be back to Brazil.
"I just want to keep fighting and doing what I do every day. I just want to fight the best," he continued. "I’m sure the opportunity will eventually come, and I will be ready. I have more fights on my (WSOF) contract, but we never know what might happen. Both promotions have a good relationship, but I have a contract with World Series. We never know, though."
Before he thinks about dethroning Dillashaw, Moraes has to focus on Bollinger. His WSOF title won’t be on the line on Sept. 13, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less hunger to win.
"I will try to be the best Marlon Moraes to ever fight at the WSOF cage on Sept.13," he said. "Cody is a well-rounded fighter. I’m fighting at 140 pounds, so I don’t care. I will just do my best and win. I’m fighting outside my weight class, so I will be stronger and I won’t have to lose those last five pounds. Cutting weight is the worst part. Fighting is just fun.
"I’m going there to win. I don’t think about any other result. I don’t have the responsibility to defend my title, but I have the responsibility to win for myself."
If victorious on Saturday night, Moraes will likely put his WSOF title on the line next, and he wants to be the Anthony Johnson of the bantamweight division.
"Anthony Johnson cleaned up the division at WSOF, so they let him go (to the UFC)," Moraes said. "Who knows, maybe that happens with me, too. But I’m cool. I’m thankful for everything they’ve done for me, and I feel at home inside the WSOF cage."