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Sergio Moraes explains why he’s training to fight UFC champion Robbie Lawler

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Sergio Moraes had his UFC Fight Night 64 opponent switched twice, so he decided to change the way he was training for his return to the Octagon.

Moraes was originally matched against Peter Sobotta, and then set to meet Gasan Umalatov, but will end up fighting Mickael Lebout at Saturday’s UFC event in Krakow, Poland. That’s not an issue, though, as the Brazilian grappler decided to train for a fight as if he was facing welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

"They switched my opponent twice. That’s the first time something like that happens to me," Moraes told "My first opponent liked to fight on the ground, and they changed it for a guy who prefers to strike. When they changed it the second time, I spoke with my coach Andre Dida and decided to get ready for any situation. I’m ready for everything now.

"My goal is to win the title, so I will always train to fight the champion. I’m training to fight the champion, so I will be ready to fight anyone else."

Lebout makes his UFC debut on short notice after going unbeaten in his past seven fights, and Moraes admits he has no idea what to expect.

"I don’t know him very much. I’ve seen some videos, but that’s all," he said. "I hope to beat him by knockout or submission, but I’m also ready to do three rounds at the highest level."

Forced out of action for months due to a knee injury, Moraes looks for his third win in a row after scoring submissions over Renee Forte and Neil Magny.

"I’m addicted to competition," Moraes said. "I was used to compete every month in jiu-jitsu, sometimes twice in the same month. I was out of the Octagon for almost two years, so I can’t wait to finally get back in there. I’m happy to be fighting again.

"I evolved a lot in the past months with Dida. I’m a complete fighter now," he continued. "My jiu-jitsu is my best weapon, of course, but I have the option to fight standing now. I can fight five rounds standing if I have to, and I will be fine against anyone."

Despite an evolution in his striking game, the multiple time jiu-jitsu world champion believes he has the best ground game in the welterweight division.

"I see two fighters in my division with a refined jiu-jitsu. One of them is Demian Maia, and the other one is Jake Shields. Both have good ground games, but neither is a jiu-jitsu world champion --- and I have three world titles," Moraes said. "If anyone has a ground game to be feared, that’s me. I believe in my jiu-jitsu against any of them, but we know this is not jiu-jitsu, this is MMA, and the fighter with the best transitions has the best jiu-jitsu in MMA."

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