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Brandon Moreno sees injury that postponed Ray Borg fight to UFC 223 as a blessing in disguise

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UFC Fight Night: Ultimate Media Day Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Injuries are bad news in sports, but every now and then, they’ll turn out to be positive for some athletes.

Brandon Moreno recently fell in that small category where an injury actually worked things out for the better. The Mexican fighter suffered a fissure and a second-degree muscle tear on his right elbow in late December, while training for his fight with Ray Borg scheduled at the time for UFC Austin on Feb. 18.

“It happened the week of Christmas, I got hurt on Wednesday, it was Dec. 22 if I’m not mistaken,” Moreno recalled in an interview with MMA Fighting. “It happened during a wrestling class. I was defending a takedown and there was like water or sweat on the ground, and I slipped, posted on my arm out of pure reaction – and I didn’t post correctly – so all my weight fell on my arm and I hyperextended my elbow.

“It was kind of like an armbar, that’s how the injury happened. I was out for like three weeks, where I was training around the injury – like running, some machines at the gym, cardio, and that type of thing, but nothing real. I lost almost a month of training.”

The 24-year-old fighter knew something was wrong immediately when the injury happened. Fearing the worst, Moreno thought his pivotal bout with Borg would get canceled, as it often does when injury strikes a fighter that’s booked to fight. Yet, Moreno didn’t lose his opportunity to fight the former UFC title challenger that sits third in the division’s rankings.

“I’ve never felt that pain,” Moreno said. “Sometimes you have injuries that you’re already familiar with, so you know you’ll be alright in a few days or whatever, but this one was different. My elbow wouldn’t stop hurting, so I went to the doctor and she told me that I had a muscular tear and fissure on my bone. Not a serious fissure, but still a fissure.

“So I knew I had to talk to the UFC so they could cancel my fight, that’s the first thing I thought of. My trainer Raul Arvizu told me, ‘what if we tell the UFC that you got injured, but it’s nothing super serious that if we could move the fight to a different date.’ I thought it wasn’t going to happen because I thought Ray Borg might not agree and say, ‘you know what, I want to fight on that date (Feb. 18),’ and not make the fight happen. But me, Ray Borg and the UFC all agreed (to postpone the fight).”

Moreno’s pivotal 125-pound contest was moved to UFC 223, which is set to go down on April 7 in Brooklyn. This change in date was perfect for Moreno.

Following his UFC Mexico City main event loss to Sergio Pettis, Moreno told MMA Fighting he was looking to take a long break from the Octagon. Moreno had fought six times in 16 months. The Tijuana native said overtraining could’ve played a factor on his loss to Pettis back in August, citing that his “body didn’t respond” and he didn’t feel like himself that night in Mexico. Moreno took that performance as a sign that his body needed a break from competition and weight cutting.

“At the end of the day, I do think it was something positive,” Moreno explained. “I’m not sure if you remember that I told you I wanted to fight around April. Obviously, when they offered us the fight in February, I talked to my trainer and we agreed that my body had already healed so we said ‘ok, let’s do it,’ but I did want to fight in April. So yeah, things worked out and I got the date that I wanted. I feel way healthier, I feel a lot stronger in my trainings, I feel I have more energy, and my traininer is telling me I’ve been looking very good in training and that’s what matters right now.”

With the Borg fight postponed, Moreno began to ease back into training around mid January. Today, the Entram Gym product says he’s 100 percent healthy and he’s training full on. Moreno can already feel the extra two months he got for the Borg fight.

“Just in my mood, despite me being a very positive and happy person, my day-to-day was to be tired and survive the training days,” Moreno said. “Now, I’m enjoying a lot my training. I have more energy in my classes and that’s the main change. I feel way stronger and healthier, I just feel excellent physically right now.”

The change in date didn’t only give a much needed break for Moreno’s body, but it also gave him the possibility to shine on a pay-per-view card, or at the very least, experience fighting on a numbered event. Moreno hasn’t received any confirmation on whether or not he’ll be on the pay-per-view main card or on the televised preliminary card, but he’s excited either way.

“I would love to be on the main card, but if not, then oh well, I understand,” Moreno laughed. “But of course I’m excited, I’ve never fought on a numbered event, I’ve only fought in UFC Fight Nights. I was excited to fight in Austin, but at the end of the day I just want to fight, I don’t care where. It’s obvious that there are going to be way more people watching this card (UFC 223), so there are going to be a lot of expectations, so this is a moment to shine and I need to make the most of it. I have to give a very good fight, so people want to watch me fight after that loss in Mexico.”