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Brandon Moreno opens up about departure from UFC, future in MMA

UFC Fight Night 96 photos
Brandon Moreno

Brandon Moreno’s days as a UFC fighter are over, at least for the time being.

The former UFC flyweight contender was cut from the promotion late last year following a loss to Alexandre Pantoja in May 2018 at UFC Chile. At the time of his departure, Moreno was still ranked in the top 10 of the division. Moreno’s release went largely unnoticed, as there was confusion between him and the UFC regarding whether or not he was still with the company. The lack of clarity on the situation left fans wondering about Moreno’s whereabouts and status as a UFC fighter.

“Apparently I was cut a while back, like around November, December,” Moreno told MMA Fighting. “I was removed from the rankings, and you know, I was like, ‘what’s going on?’ And I don’t know if I didn’t get all the info, but I thought that I was still with the company and that maybe they were going to find me some space a weight class above, but no.

“Around January, I understand the situation and realize that I was out of the UFC completely without a possibility of getting a fight. The thing is that we were talking to Sean Shelby, the matchmaker, to see if I could get a fight or not (at bantamweight). What I was told was that the division was full, so I didn’t have my hopes up, but I thought that maybe I was in like a waiting list, but that was never the case. I wasn’t in any waiting list, I was cut. The moment that I found out, I started looking around.”

Moreno, who recently signed with Iridium Sports Agency, is a free agent and is currently weighing his options to see what banner he’s going to fight under next.

Although it’s uncertain where the 25-year-old Tijuana native will be taking his talents, fans can be sure of one thing: Moreno’s time as a flyweight has come to an end.

“I’m looking for fights at 135 pound because I don’t see a future at 125,” Moreno explained. “I’ve been working with a nutritionist here in Mexico and she’s really good, she’s been helping me a lot. I actually recently went to a checkup and I’ve gained a lot of weight, so everything is going very well. I’m eating a lot, lifting a lot more, I’m stronger, so I feel very good. I’m prepared to go up to the bantamweight division.

“It’s the trend now. Every day we see more and more fighters moving up in weight because I think it’s just the evolution. That whole thing of killing your body and cutting a lot of weight, I think that’s just not healthy, not good for you, and fighters are starting to realize that, which is good.”

Moreno doesn’t think bantamweight is his ideal weight class, but because he wants to get back in the UFC, the Mexican fighter sees no other option than to leave the 125-pound weight class behind.

It’s been long rumored that the UFC will be getting rid of its men’s flyweight division. The current champion of the weight class, Henry Cejudo, will be challenging for the vacant belt a division above and there’s currently no plan in place for a title defense at 125 pounds. Also, over the last few months, the company has been releasing many of the top contenders at flyweight without signing any new talent to the division.

“Its crazy and very strange,” Moreno said. “On one hand the UFC is cutting left and right the flyweights. I don’t even know who’s left, very few fighters. I think five might even be too many. There’s Joseph Benavidez, Alexandre Pantoja, and I think that’s it. I don’t know.

“But I do see that on the other hand the UFC is still booking flyweight fights. Pantoja just beat Wilson Reis and they’re doing Formiga vs. Joseph Benavidez, so I don’t understand. Regardless, I’m taking care of myself. I know I have a different path, and for the moment it is not with the UFC. My goal right now is to fight, win, and bring up my record and try to return.”

Moreno is sad to see the flyweight division go. He believes that with the change in champions there could have been a good opportunity to try to make the division more marketable among the MMA fan base.

“Personally, I don’t think they did it in the right moment,” Moreno said. “I think if anything they should’ve done it before when Demetrious Johnson was around. He wasn’t super liked by the public, people didn’t turn to watch him, he didn’t fill up arenas, he didn’t sell pay-per-views. But now you have Henry Cejudo — a new champion, an Olympic gold medalist, someone who has a lot of history that you can do a lot with. He’s a son of immigrants, Mexican-American, etcetera, etcetera. There’s a new opportunity to give the division a rebirth.”

Despite leaving the top MMA organization in the world under difficult circumstances, Moreno has no hard feelings against the UFC.

“I don’t have any complaints in my time with the UFC,” Moreno said. “The entire time I was there, they treated me very well and they gave me very good opportunities. The company always treated me well, so I don’t have any bad experiences with them. It’s obviously very sad what’s happening, I’m not happy about getting cut in this manner, but that’s no complaint.

“It’s sad, but at the end of the day the UFC is a private company and they look out after their own interests, so those are decisions on the business side of things. I’m affected by them but I understand.”

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