The flyweight talents collided for the first time in Nov. 2015, when Akhmetov improved to 23-0 with a controversial split decision victory against the Brazilian to win the 125-pound belt.
Akhmetov hasn’t fought since that night, opening space for Moraes to add a pair of submission victories to his record and win the interim title. Now, set to finally rematch, “Mikinho" is thrilled to avenge his last loss.
"I’m happy that this rematch is happening now,” Moraes told MMA Fighting. "I’m going there to get what is mine. Everyone who watched the first fight knows who won. I’m ready to change this story and become the undisputed champion again.
"It’s been two years already. I was given an immediate rematch after the defeat, but it took so long. I came back last year and won two fights, won the interim belt, and this fight is finally happening.”
Moraes isn’t sure why his rival hasn’t competed since 2015, but believes he was the one that forced the champion to stay on the sidelines.
"I feel I’m the winner of that fight,” Moraes said. "I think he hasn’t fought since because of a rib injury that I caused in that fight, so I still see myself as the flyweight champion.
"I don’t know how his (ring rust) benefits me, but being away for so long if not good for anyone,” he added. "I know I’d feel a little if I stayed out for two years. I’m really confident for this fight because I’m active, I became more mature after losing to him."
Coming off a pair of submission victories over Eugene Toquero and Tilek Batyrov in 2016, Moraes has no intentions of going five rounds one more time against the unbeaten Kazakh.
“Mikinho" doesn’t agree with the decision, but says it brought great things for him as a martial artist. Training full time at American Top Team now, he lists his grappling training with the likes of Rodolfo Vieira, Antonio Carlos Junior, Kyoji Horiguchi, Bruno Malfacine and Pedro Munhoz as the best camp possible for a fight with Akhmetov.
"That’s high-level jiu-jitsu,” Moraes said. "I expect to that this fight to the ground and submit him."