Marlon Moraes has always been a fan favorite but he received quite a raucous reception from the Chicago crowd on Wednesday ahead of his fight against Henry Cejudo to crown a new bantamweight champion at UFC 238.
Part of that enthusiasm is definitely for Moraes, who comes into the main event this weekend off four straight wins including a pair of brutal knockouts over Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera and a submission victory in his most recent outing against Raphael Assuncao.
The pro-Moraes crowd may have also been swayed as an anti-Cejudo movement or at least that’s what the top ranked bantamweight contender believes.
“It’s easy to get the support from the crowd when you’re fighting Henry Cejudo,” Moraes said with a smile following the UFC 238 open workouts. “That’s it. It looks like [no one likes Henry Cejudo].”
All jokes aside, Moraes was completely focused with just days remaining until he gets his first shot at UFC gold after joining the promotion from World Series of Fighting.
He’s been a champion before but the 31-year old Brazilian long believed that he belonged amongst the rest of the elite bantamweights competing in the UFC.
Moraes has a chance to cement his place in history with a win but he’s not overlooking Cejudo, who is moving up to 135 pounds for the fight as the reigning UFC flyweight champion.
“He’s a great wrestler,” Moraes said about the Olympic gold medalist. “He’s been improving every fight. He showed his last couple [of fights] his striking is getting way better.
“I’m excited. I’m excited to put on a show and prove I’m the best.”
In the weeks leading up to the fight, Moraes and Cejudo have exchanged words in interviews, although the back and forth trash talk has rarely got out of hand.
As much as Cejudo might be attempting some sort of mental warfare, Moraes can only laugh it off while promising that nothing he says will save him once they start trading punches on Saturday night.
“Nah, he’s not under my skin,” Moraes said. “I’ve been building for a long time for this moment. He’s not under my skin. He’s wrong if he’s thinking like that he’s getting under my skin. I’m going to be as cold as I’ve always been.
“I’m going to be better than I’ve ever been and Saturday night, I’m going to be the new champion.”