Brandon Moreno’s UFC run has been one of the most fascinating comeback stories in mixed martial arts this past year.
Last year, the Mexican flyweight got the opportunity to compete in the 24th season of the UFC’s reality television show The Ultimate Fighter and was eliminated from the tournament in the very first episode of the show. Just when things looked to be over for Moreno, “The Assassin Baby” got a call from the UFC to take on then top contender Louis Smolka on eight days notice at last October’s UFC Fight Night 96. Moreno impressively submitted Smolka in the first round.
Now, since his UFC debut, Moreno has picked up a victory over Ryan Benoit, and most recently a submission win over longtime top-10 flyweight Dustin Ortiz at UFC Fight Night 108 in Nashville. With those three impressive wins, the 23-year-old Moreno now finds himself ranked seventh in a division that’s dying for new blood, which makes him believe he's not too far away from challenging the champion.
“I think in a perfect world, I just need one or two more fights,” Moreno told MMA Fighting. “It’s because of the situation in the division. It’s a very shallow division, Demetrious has already beaten everyone, there are very few fresh names, and I’m one of them. So I think one or two more victories and I wouldn't have anywhere else to go, you know?”
Moreno, who's alway looking to climb the flyweight ladder, said he’s feeling completely healthy following his bout with Ortiz and would like to fight again around August. The Mexican fighter wants a bout with fellow prospect Ray Borg, who’s ranked third in the division, but is open to fight other guys ranked above him.
“Personally, I’d love to fight Ray Borg. I’d really like to fight him,” Moreno said. “He’s failed to make weight a few times, that’s the only thing that worries me a bit. But if could make the weight, I’d love to fight him. I feel like it’s a fight between the new youth that are coming up, and I think he is the same age as me, and we’re very similar in style. And if it’s not Ray Borg, there is Formiga, Wilson Reis, Sergio Pettis, if he’s able to get past Henry [Cejudo]. So I’d love to fight him [Borg], but there are many options.
“I want to fight Borg because he’s really good,” Moreno added. “If you look at his skills, his jiu-jitsu, his grappling, his striking, it’s all really good and I think it would be an excellent test for me. I want to see how good I am and I feel like he’s really good.”
Since his performance inside the TUF cage, it’s been notable that Moreno has kept improving his skills as martial artist, splitting his training between his hometown gym in Tijuana, Mexico — Entram Gym — and Team Elevation in Colorado. But the Spanish-speaking fighter has also made efforts to improve his English, something he finds important for his future success in the promotion.
“I’ve just simply tried to lose the fear of speaking it,” Moreno explained. “I feel my English is not as bad now. I just try to practice with people by asking them things, even if they don't make sense, just to try to make conversation, to keep practicing, and little by little I’ve been improving.
“Not only in this sport, but I think that in any job, being able to speak two languages favors you a lot. And for me it’s super important to improve my English, obviously that can translate in the future to more sponsors, being able to communicate to a bigger audience, and more fans so they can follow you. So yes, it’s definitely something I need to keep improving, and like you said, champions like Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva, they have very big fame, but we don't know, maybe if they managed better English, they could’ve possibly reached even bigger fame? We don't know.”