Thiago Moises, one of the best prospects to come out of the Brazilian version of Dana White’s Contender Series, has a tough test for his UFC debut.
A former RFA lightweight champion, Moises, enters the Octagon at Saturday night’s UFC Denver to face Beneil Dariush, who has as many UFC appearances as the Brazilian has of MMA fights overall, and feels motivated for “a big test” that Dariush represents for his career.
”I’m really anxious, happy with this opportunity to be fighting Beneil,” Moises told MMA Fighting. “I can’t wait to get to Nov. 10th and enter the UFC cage. I’ve dreamed with this moment ever since my first MMA fight. I’ve trained with this goal for a long time, and thank God it’s finally here.”
Making the walk to the UFC Octagon for the first time against such an experienced fighter is no joke, but Moises, 11-2 with seven finishes in MMA, says that competing in front of UFC president Dana White and promotion matchmakers on the Contender Series got him even more nervous.
Back in August, Moises flew to Las Vegas to face Gleidson Cutis in a lightweight bout at Contender Series Brazil, and won with an impressive knockout in the opening round.
”It was more tense to fight with no crowd than fighting in an arena,” Moises said. “We’re used to fighting in front of tons of people screaming, but when you get in there and there’s only Dana White and the UFC crew, that silence, it feels different. That got me nervous.
”I’ve trained for five-round fights at RFA and LFA before, I’ve fought tough opponents, some who were UFC-level fighters, so that has given me the experience I need. Being on the Contender and fighting without a crowd, that silence, in front of Dana White, ‘Minotauro’, Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, that was great to get me prepared to fight in the UFC.”
Training alongside some of the best in the world over at American Top Team — including Edson Barboza, who has finished Dariush with a spectacular flying knee in March of 2017 —, Moises predicts the same outcome for their UFC Denver clash.
”I spoke with Edson about the strategy he used to fight with Beneil and he gave me some tips,” Moises said, “What he felt in the fight and how his training camp was to beat him, and that definitely helped me get ready to represent Brazil well.”
”Beneil is tough on the feet and on the ground, but I don’t think he has a good wrestling,” he continued. “I see myself growing in my career and I don’t believe Beneil is in a good phase in his career, so I see myself winning by knockout in the first round.”
UFC Denver will take place at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo., and features “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung vs. Yair Rodriguez in a featherweight main event bout.