Moraes, after all, is 3-1 in the UFC, and the former World Series of Fighting champ is 16-1 in his past 17 fights.
But it’s that one loss in the stretch which makes Moraes’ case for a title shot something less than a slam dunk: Moraes lost his UFC debut to Raphael Assuncao in a split decision at UFC 212, part of a three-fight win streak and a 10-1 stretch for Assuncao.
Still, though, Moraes believes he has momentum on his side and that the fans believe he’ll make for a more exciting title challenger than the methodical Assuncao.
“I’m getting prepared to be the UFC bantamweight champion,” Moraes said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. “Who do the people want to watch, me against Cody, me against Dillashaw, or Raphael? Raphael fought Dillashaw. The fight wasn’t exciting. I think the fans want to see me, even some fans want to see ‘let’s see if this guy’s really good, let’s test him’ and the fans want to see if he can win. So I think I am next.”
The UFC 212 outcome was highly debated in its aftermath. And while Moraes won’t flat out say he feels he won the fight, you don’t have to dig too deep into his words to figure it out.
“The fans know,” Moraes responded when asked if he thought he won. “The media knows. [People] who were watching the fight know. So, I don’t know.”
Dillashaw and Garbrandt don’t fight until August, which means Moraes would have to wait if he wants the title shot next. He’s okay with that, as his UFC Utica win over Rivera was his fourth fight in a year and he wouldn’t mind a break.
In the meantime, he says he has no preference on who wins at UFC 227.
“I’ve got to be honest with you, I’ve been telling people I think T.J. is going to win,” Moraes said. “But they’re both great fighters, two good fighters, high IQ, they’re good anywhere ... they can both win.”
Regardless of how this all pans out, simply by getting this far, Moraes believes he’s sent a message to those who questioned his credentials when he fought for the WSOF.
“Me and my team, we knew we could do well. But we enjoyed the process, and that was good. I’m thankful for the World Series of Fighting,” Moraes said. “World Series of Fighting is never going to die — me, Justin Gaethje, David Branch, Anthony Johnson, are we good or not? What do the fans think now? What are everyone else, the haters say, ‘Oh, you guys fighting bums, you guys overpay.’ Now they see.”