Marlon Moraes has been competing among the elite of the UFC bantamweight division since he joined the company in 2017, and his ninth octagon appearance could be a turning point.
The former WSOF champion challenged Henry Cejudo for the 135-pound throne in June 2019, but came up short. He fought and beat Jose Aldo via split decision later that year, but ultimately saw his opponent get the shot at the gold. Back to the cage in October after a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moraes ended up on the losing end of a knockout against Cory Sandhagen.
“Magic” Moraes looks for an emphatic victory Saturday, when he faces Rob Font on the main card of UFC Vegas 17 at the UFC APEX, and admits there is pressure going into this fight “because I demand a lot from myself and always go in there to win.”
“I’m thirsty for a victory because I lost my last one, and I’m even thirstier going into this fight Saturday,” Moraes said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I think that’s the main thing, we have to demand ourselves to be better than we were yesterday. Unfortunately, I did not win my last fight, and I plan on coming back Saturday better than last time.”
That’s one of the reasons why Moraes agreed to fighting Font just days removed from his stoppage defeat to Sandhagen.
“I’m a professional athlete, I fight for one of the biggest promotions in the world,” he said. “And I’m not used to losing, I’m not used to taking a loss home and staying home crying, so I decided to take another opportunity as soon as that one was over. Wins and losses are never a guarantee, but we have to be fearless and always aim for the best. I’m coming for a win. I’d rather challenge myself than stay home crying.”
Font will be Moraes’ first non-top-10 opponent in the UFC, but the Brazilian considers him to be one of the 10 best 135-pounders since “some athletes aren’t active and others have indicated they will switch weight classes,” referring to former titleholders Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt.
“He’s a great fighter with great boxing and dangerous kicks,” Moraes said of Font. “We’ve watched many of his fights, but I’m ready to be better than him on the feet. If there are opportunities to mix it up with him then we’ll fight MMA, and I’ll be better than him Saturday. There are no easy fights in the UFC, especially in my division and especially for me, but I’m coming with all I got. I’m thirsty for the win.”
Font has only lost three times under the UFC banner, including defeats to Moraes’ teammates John Lineker and Pedro Munhoz. Yet, Moraes hasn’t reached out to his fellow American Top Team talents for advice because “every fight is different and every athlete evolves, and I’m the one fighting now.”
“He’s a tough fighter who fought super tough athletes and never got knocked out, and I’m ready to fight three tough rounds and be better than him in all three,” Moraes said. “I have what it takes to beat him on the feet and on the ground. Get in there and feel where the fight is going and finish it if I have the opportunity. If I don’t have the opportunity, I wanna be better than him in all three rounds.”