Marlon Moraes is anxious to finally put his World Series of Fighting bantamweight championship on the line for the first time on Thursday night in Edmonton, Canada.
Moraes, who stopped Cody Bollinger in a non-title match in September, six months after winning the vacant title in March, will face off against Josh Hill in the main event of WSOF 18 on Feb. 12. He hopes Hill comes in ready to fight.
"I’m motivated, training hard, getting better every day. It’s time to prove myself again," Moraes told MMAFighting.com. "The title wasn’t on the line in my last fight, but this time my opponent will make weight and I will defend the title."
The Brazilian bantamweight was scheduled to fight Hill in September, but the undefeated Canadian pulled out from the bout days before the fight due to an injury. Moraes, a Rio de Janeiro native based in Florida, feels like he’s training for Hill since June.
"I just continued doing what I was doing before. I’m ready to fight him. I can’t wait to go there and fight him," he said. "The strategy is always the same: be ready for everything he brings. I’m ready to fight him standing, on the ground, and to wrestle. I’ll capitalize on the first opening. I can submit him, I can knock him out, and I can also fight five rounds."
Fighting in Canada for the first time in his MMA career, Moraes doesn’t mind competing in enemy territory.
"It’s going to be a little different because he’s a Canadian and will be fighting in his home country, but that doesn’t bother me at all. It’s going to be the same thing to me," Moraes said. "It’s going to be just the two of us inside the cage, so it’s going down to who trained more."
"I never thought about it, actually. I’m a WSOF fighter and I will fight wherever they want," he continued. "I never thought about it, it’s going to be the same thing to me. Canada and United States are pretty close. He will have the fans behind him, but it won’t change anything in the fight."
Hill is unbeaten in 10 professional fights, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been beaten before. A member of The Ultimate Fighter season 18, "Gentleman" lost to Michael Wootten via unanimous decision, and Moraes watched that bout.
"I watched that fight, but honestly I don’t think too much about my opponent’s record. It means nothing," he said. "Some fighters have a lot of losses but against fighters who are tough, and others are undefeated because they built their records with easy fights. I’m not saying that’s his case. Hill is a tough opponent and I’m ready to fight him like if he was the best fighter in the world."
Moraes left Brazil in 2010 with a 3-2-1 record, and won 10 of 12 since moving to the United States. He wants to come back to his country as a champion, and hopes to headline WSOF’s first card in Brazil.
"I would love to fight in Brazil one day," he said. "I miss the Brazilian crowd, and I hope one day they recognize me, they know who is Marlon Moraes. It would be cool. I hope this dream comes true one day."
Moraes needs to get past Hill to keep his dream alive, and he’s confident he will get his hands raised.
"I don’t know how, I just know that the victory will be mine," Moraes said. "I see myself with my hands up in the end. I don’t know how, but I know I will win because I worked hard for this."