Renato Moicano returns to the Octagon Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif. when he takes on fellow undefeated featherweight Brian Ortega at UFC 214. And even though the Brazilian talent isn’t being promoted by the UFC as a hot prospect like his countrymen Thomas Almeida and Paulo Borrachinha, he doesn’t intend to change who he is inside the cage.
"Maybe my fighting style isn’t that sellable, doesn’t make things easier to promote,” Moicano told MMA Fighting, "but that’s my style and I won’t change it."
It’s common for Brazilian fighters to avoid trash talk since most of them come from a martial art background, but it’s not like Moicano condemns fighters like Conor McGregor.
"I think McGregor is f***ing awesome, I can’t wait for this fight with Floyd Mayweather, but that’s not my style,” he said. "I can’t do something like that because that’s not who I am.
"I actually like the trash talkers, those who talk well, but I can’t do something like that because it’s not my reality. I have no temptations to be like that, it’s not my style. The way you see me fight, that’s who I am at home and in the gym. I don’t like to disrespect others.”
Speaking of the man who once held the belt in his division, Moicano is anxious for “The Notorious" and his boxing clash against Floyd Mayweather on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas.
"I’m rooting for him to win,” Moicano said. "I tell my Brazilian friends that and they question why I’m rooting for him, but I say we have to root for him because he’s going where no one else went before. He’s a pioneer. I compare what he’s going to men going to the moon. Look what he’s done, winning two titles in the toughest organization, beating Jose Aldo and Eddie Alvarez the way he did, and making 100 million dollars in a fight, that’s unprecedented.
"If he wins this fight, he will make history for MMA and make the sport grow even more, especially if he comes back to MMA. I don’t think he comes back because he will have all that money in his pocket. who is he going to fight? But I’m waiting. This fight will be really cool."
The Brazilian featherweight roots for McGregor, but knows it’s a tough task.
"It’s hard. It’s hard for him to win. Complicated,” Moicano said. "I spoke with several boxing experts and they all say Mayweather is unique even for boxers, that’s why he’s 49-0 and a champion for 20 years. He won everything. Maybe his style isn’t the most exciting because when we think about boxing we think of Mike Tyson, but it’s hard for someone who never boxed to go there and beat him."
"But you can’t doubt McGregor,” he added. "Who would have thought he’d beat Aldo the way he did? Who would’ve thought he’d do the things he said he'd do? I wouldn’t say I’m rooting for McGregor, but I’m rooting for MMA."
But before he worries about Mayweather vs. McGregor, Moicano has to focus on his own battle. The Brazilian sees his clash with Ortega as "a great opportunity” in the featherweight division, but feels he’s once again being brought to lose.
"After I beat the Russian (Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 198), the UFC saw an opportunity to bring me up in the division… not to bring me up, but bring a guy for Stephens to win, and I ended up winning,” he said. "Now they are matching up two guys in a similar position, a similar record. I also believe this one is for Ortega to win. The card is in Anaheim and he will be close to his hometown."
Moicano and Ortega are both undefeated in 12 professional fights, and the Brazilian, while praising his opponents' guard game, admits he wasn’t familiar with his fights when offered the bout.
"To tell you the truth, I heard about him before but I never actually watched his fights before they offered me,” Moicano said. "When they booked this fight I watched his previous ones, and he’s pretty good. This fight makes sense for both of us, unlike the Stephens fight when I wasn’t ranked.
"I think this fight can decide the future of the division down the line. The division was a bit stuck after McGregor left, and this might be an important fight for the top 10 of the division."