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Marlon Moraes explains decision to re-sign with WSOF, it was an 'offer I couldn’t refuse’

WSOF

With the UFC’s bantamweight division currently among the most stacked within the promotion, the potential addition of World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes became that much more compelling. However, it was learned recently that the 28-year-old free agent Moraes has signed a long-term deal with the WSOF, thus keeping him as he was — that is, a big fish in a small pond.

Moraes, who trains with Ricardo Almeida, Frankie Edgar, UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and fast-rising striking coach Mark Henry, said on Monday his decision came down to relationships, as well as the feel of being at home.

"You have to understand, I have a very good relationship with the World Series," he said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. "And [WSOF owner] Uncle Bruce [Deific] knows me. He knows my wife. He’s knows her name. He’s knows my son, he knows my son’s name. It’s kind of hard when somebody takes you dinner, gives you a hug and explaining to you. He knows me, you know? He took me to a steakhouse, which is my favorite food. The meats keep coming, and I was eating very well. He knows me. He understands about my life, and I like the idea."

Moraes has been on a torrent streak since Dec. 2011, having won a dozen fights in a row, including 10 under the WSOF banner. He has emerged as one of the faces of the promotion, having fought at WSOF 1, as well as its most dominant champion. It was because of his resume that the allure of him mixing it up with current UFC champion Dominick Cruz, or contender Cody Garbrandt, or his fellow Brazilian John Lineker, became a topic of conversation.

However, those challenges were secondary in his decision. An exuberant Moraes alluded to taking a better contract with the WSOF, one that would give him security going forward. He also said that right now it made the most sense for his family to stay put, and face whatever gamut of challengers that the WSOF comes up with.

"[Deific] made an offer that I couldn’t refuse," he said. "I have a family. I have a beautiful wife and a beautiful son. I like to perform. He showed me the platform and the channel four and NBC, and it’s such a great promotion man. For me, we are the best promotion in the world. I couldn’t refuse. I felt like, man, I got to do this. I talked to my family, with my coaches, and especially my wife. And that was the decision. Keep fighting for the World Series of Fighting, keep performing, and fight everybody.

"Because in World Series, I can fight anybody. I can fight people from everywhere in the world, and people that we don’t know. In the UFC, they know who they’re going to fight. They know who’s doing well. The champion is worried about this guy and about guy. Man, I’m in a tough spot. Guys come from everywhere. Guys that we don’t know that do great, guys that have great records. This is what I’m looking for, I’m looking to fight with the best. I’m not going to choose opponents. I just want to be on the big stage and I want to perform."

Asked if he engaged in talks with other promotions during his free agency stint, Moraes said there was some inquiry.

"We kind of felt outside, but man, the World Series of Fighting did something for that I couldn’t refuse, and that’s it," he said.

It was announced on Monday that Moraes would defend his 135-pound title against the relatively unknown Josenaldo Silva, one of four title fights on the WSOF’s big New Year’s Eve card at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The card will air on NBC that night.

"He’s the number one fighter in Brazil at 135 pounds, and I watch a lot of Brazilian promotions fights on Combate," he said, when asked if he’d heard of his opponent. "And this guy’s no joke. He’s a great fighter, and I don’t think they could have found a better fighter for me."

As for the length of his new deal, Moraes said that was a better question directed at his manager, Ali Abdel-Aziz, yet that it was for the long term.

"It’s something like lifetime," he said. "I’m pretty happy and grateful for what they’ve done.

Moraes said that his coaches and training partners all supported him re-upping with WSOF, and that that support also helped him make his decision.

Moraes, who expressed his gratitude throughout the interview, didn’t seem overly upset that he wouldn’t be testing himself against the UFC top 10 — now with so many other factors in play.

"I think [Cruz]’s a great fighter, he’s a competitor," he said. "Like Cody Garbrandt and John Lineker, all those guys, they’re all tough guys. I know if I fight those guys three times maybe I can beat one, maybe I can beat two. It’s close fights, I know, as good as they are.

"But I am happy right now. I think a lot of people know who I am and what I can do."