Just in case there were any remaining questions, the main event of UFC Utica on Friday night left no doubt: Marlon Moraes is on the very short list of legitimate UFC bantamweight title contenders.
The former World Series of Fighting champion needed just 33 seconds to knock out the very tough Jimmie Rivera. That give Moraes three straight wins and 16 in his past 17.
“I’m very happy with this,” Moraes said. “I’m a mixed martial artist, if you think I’m going to take you down, I’m going to knock your out. I’m going to win the UFC bantamweight title.”
Moraes’ first blow of the fight was the only one that mattered: A perfectly placed switch kick that landed flush on Rivera’s temple. Moraes landed several right hands to the downed Rivera before the bout was waved off.
“We’ve been putting the boxing and the kicks together,” Moraes said. “He’s tough, I’m putting it together good.”
Moraes improved to 21-5-1 with his 11th career knockout and 16th finish. Rivera, who had won 20 fights in a row, including all five of his UFC fights, dropped to 21-2 following his first career stoppage loss.