Marlon Moraes called his shot after scoring the biggest win of his career.
The 30-year-old former World Series of Fighting champion submitted Raphael Assuncao with a sensational first-round guillotine in the main event of UFC Fortaleza on Saturday night, avenging his previous 2017 split decision loss to Assuncao in decisive fashion. The win gave Moraes victories in four straight contests and 17 of his last 18 overall, and he wasted little time afterward making the most of his big moment.
“First of all, I want a new contract,” Moraes said Saturday at UFC Fortaleza’s post-fight press conference. “I want a contract and the first fight has to be for the title. The time has come, I’m ready. I’m in my prime. I can’t wait [any] more. It’s my time to fight for the belt and to win. I’m going to fight for the belt and I’m going to win and I’m going to be the champion.”
Moraes (22-5-1) steamrolled through Assuncao in a little over three minutes, but the fight may have actually been the easiest part of fight week for Moraes. “Magic” revealed that he was sick all week ahead of UFC Fortaleza and may not have lasted to fight night without a little extra help from his longtime friend and training partner, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
“Man, from Tuesday to Wednesday, I didn’t sleep,” Moraes explained. “Maybe I slept one hour the whole night. I didn’t want to give up, I didn’t want to back out. It was a great opportunity for me to have this fight in Brazil, and I needed to say something to someone, but if I said something to the UFC, they would’ve tried to take me to the doctor, I wouldn’t [have made] weight and that would be it. So I had to talk to somebody who fights no matter what would happen — even if they had a broken arm, they would get in there.
“So I called my training partner Frankie Edgar and I said, ‘Man, I’m feeling sick.’ He said, ‘Man, drink some tea. Drink some tea and keep going. It’s still Tuesday, the fight’s on Saturday.’ I called my wife and we talked and I drank a lot of liquids, a lot of coconut water. I got better. I lost 10 pounds in two days, about four kilos, but I adjusted my diet, and in my head I just keep thinking it was a normal weight cut.”
Edgar wasn’t the only former lightweight champion to help Moraes, either. Moraes said another longtime friend and training partner, Eddie Alvarez, played a key role in his revenge win against Assuncao, which began with a hard right hook that wobbled the veteran before Moraes worked his way to a nasty guillotine choke.
“Last time, [Assuncao] would throw one and I would throw one, and it was a very confusing fight to know who won,” Moraes said. “And our gameplan [this time] was to have a greater volume of strikes and to attack him a little bit more. But during this week, my training partner Eddie Alvarez, he’s a great friend that I have and he was watching a lot of videos from that fight, from that first fight, and he noticed that most of the times when he hit me was when I attacked him. So we talked about that this week and we changed it a little bit.
“I let him come forward a little bit and that’s how I hit him, and I was able to hit that shot [which] was the beginning of the end.”
Following his win, Moraes stands alone as the clear-cut No. 1 contender in the UFC’s bantamweight division, however it’s murky whether he’ll get a title opportunity because of the recent superfight between 135-pound champion T.J. Dillashaw and flyweight king Henry Cejudo.
Cejudo knocked out Dillashaw in just 32 seconds at UFC Brooklyn last month to defend his 125-pound title in stunning fashion. Now a rematch between the two champions with Dillashaw’s 135-pound belt on the line appears to be a possibility.
Moraes, though, isn’t concerned.
“Cejudo’s in the flyweight [division],” Moraes said. “I’m worried about my division and the bantamweights, and T.J. Dillashaw is the champion. He hasn’t lost his title and he’s going to have to defend it, and I’m here to challenge him.”