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UFC 223’s Renato Moicano got out of comfort zone after first career loss to Brian Ortega

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Renato Moicano meets Calvin Kattar at UFC 223.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Renato Moicano has changed a few things after tasting defeat for the first time.

After a 12-fight unbeaten run in MMA, including a trio of victories inside the Octagon, the 28-year-old Brazilian lost to featherweight contender Brian Ortega via third-round submission at UFC 214 and realized he had to do something different before coming back to action.

Losing a fight hasn’t really changed who he is as a person and an athlete, though.

”I’m still the same person. I don’t focus too much on wins and losses,” Moicano told MMA Fighting. “Of course, I do everything I can to win, even in training, but more than that, fighting for real is what I love doing. That’s what I’ll always do. I’m going for the victory. I know that losing is a possibility, but I’m always going there to win.

”Ortega is a great fighter, and that loss gave me a learning experience and the motivation to get out of my comfort zone. I used to train in Brazil, and now I decided to get out and learn different things.”

Moicano moved from Brasilia to Florida with his wife in late 2017 to train at American Top Team, and took a few months to adapt before asking the UFC for another fight. Living and training surrounded by Brazilians at ATT helped him adapt quicker and better, but his move is not definitive just yet.

The UFC fighter owns a gym in Brazil and misses his family and friends, but plans on doing his next training camps at ATT. Working with Conan Silveira as his head coach for the first time for his Octagon return against Calvin Kattar, at Saturday’s UFC 223 event in Brooklyn, Moicano won’t discuss specific strategies, but guarantees he will be ready to execute everything he’s told on fight night.

Kattar is riding a 10-fight winning streak, including UFC wins over Shane Burgos and Andre Fili, and Moicano sees him as a tough test, but not exactly the name he was hoping for after his first career loss to a top contender like Ortega.

”I’m fighting someone tough, and that’s what I want,” Moicano said. “I’ve only fought tough and more experienced fighters ever since I started in this sport in Brazil. I was hoping to fight someone from the top five, maybe Yair Rodriguez or Cub Swanson, but when they offered me Calvin I said yes because he’s tough, it’s a good fight.

”Every time I fight, I have to prove that I deserve to be in the UFC and that one day I’ll fight for the belt,” he continued. “I don’t know if it gets me close to a title shot or not because the division has a lot of great fighters. Doesn’t matter how long it takes, I will fight for the belt.”

After submitting Moicano last July, Ortega continued his impressive run with wins over Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar to earn a shot at 145-pound champion Max Holloway. His long-awaited chance for the belt will have to wait a little longer, now that Holloway has stepped in to face Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight belt at UFC 223, replacing injured Tony Ferguson, but they will eventually meet later in 2018.

The perfect scenario for Moicano is Ortega defeating Holloway, he says, but doesn’t think it’s likely.

”I think it’s hard for Brian Ortega to defeat Max Holloway,” Moicano said. “I knew he would beat Cub Swanson and Frankie Edgar because those match-ups are good for him. It’s hard to touch Ortega, he goes for submissions in the clinch and is getting more fearless, but Max moves really well and I think it’s hard to beat him. On the other hand, Ortega is so calm and has that it factor. He might be losing the fight but finds a way to submit. I root for him to become champion because he deserves it.”