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Adriano Moraes to explore free agency, could pass ONE title fight for UFC contract

ONE Championship

Former ONE Championship flyweight kingpin Adriano Moraes returns to action on March 18 against Eugene Toquero, and this could be his last fight for the promotion.

Looking to rebound from a close split decision loss to Kairat Akhmetov that cost his 125-pound belt, "Mikinho" says he was initially offered an immediate rematch, but not fighting for the title again can turn out to be an advantage.

"Kairat said he wouldn’t be able to make the weight, so I’m fighting Toquero instead," Moraes told "I’m happy with the opportunity of fighting again. I moved to Florida in January to train at American Top Team, and my camp was great. Toquero is an aggressive muay thai fighter, but I worked hard on my striking with Katel Kubis, and also my wrestling and jiu-jitsu."

ONE recently changed its weigh-in procedures, and Moraes explains that it prevented Akhmetov from returning this month.

"We have to make weight three ways before the fight, and they check your weight one more time on fight day," he said. "You have to show you can live at that weight class, and the champion said he wouldn’t be able to do the fight on March 18. But they wanted the fight on this card, so they gave me another opponent."

Moraes would love to get a rematch with Akhmetov and win his title back, but not holding the belt will make him a free agent after his upcoming bout in Yangon, Myanmar.

"I was stuck in the promotion, but now I’m signing one-fight contracts," said "Mikinho". "I don’t have the championship clause anymore, so I can look at other promotions. I like to fight. I don’t think I lost that fight (against Akhmetov), I have no idea how they scored it for him, but that doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m living a new moment in my life."

"I’m in the market, I’m after big fights," he continued. "There are a lot of fighters in other promotions that I would absolutely like to fight. I’m not the ONE FC champion anymore, and God knows what’s best for me. I’m in the market. After this fight, I’m here to play."

One of the top flyweights outside the UFC today, Moraes would consider signing with the promotion instead of fighting for the ONE Championship title next.

"I believe so," said the Brazilian. "I’m not talking about money or business, but a dream. The UFC would give me big battles and great opponents. That would absolutely be an option I would have to think about."

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