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UFC veteran Sergio Moraes calls COVID-19 most ‘aggressive opponent’ he’s ever faced

MMA veteran and BJJ wiz Sergio Moraes tested positive for coronavirus infection in Sao Paulo.
Photo via Sergio Moraes

Kamaru Usman, Neil Magny, Tim Means, Anthony Rocco Martin and James Krause. For jiu-jitsu ace Sergio Moraes, dealing with the coronavirus infection was tougher than trading hands with any of those fighters in the octagon.

The former UFC welterweight is on the final stages of his recovery after testing positive for coronavirus in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and he’s warning everyone about the effects of the virus that has caused a global health crisis and more than 8,000 deaths in his home country.

“Man, it’s very difficult,” Moraes told MMA Fighting. “I never had such an aggressive opponent… I went to Sao Paulo to take care of my parents and they ended up taking care of me.”

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 1 finalist started to feel symptoms of the disease in mid-April, so he stayed isolated in a separate room in the backyard of his father’s house. His friend Dr. Felipe Carnevale, who trains jiu-jitsu with him, took the fighter to the hospital to do exams and confirm the infection.

“The first four or five days, my doctor called and asked me to put on a mask and walk around the block to see if I would experience shortness of breath,” Moraes said. “I laughed. ‘Are you crazy? I’m an athlete my entire life, I have this disease for four days and you’re talking shortness of breath? You’re crazy.’ I hang up the phone, changed my clothes. I was already breathing heavy when I walked up the stairs. ‘My God, what is this?’ Man, I was so out of breath I had to sit down. I didn’t even walk around the block [laughs].”

Away from his family and isolated in a room, Moraes says it “felt like prison” to protect his parents from this “invisible” threat. A professional MMA fighter since 2006 and a jiu-jitsu competitor for much longer, Moraes says it’s “a disease that doesn’t stop.”

“I don’t think the media even says everything this disease causes,” Moraes said. “For some moments, if I know where was the off switch, ‘enough, no more,’ I would have pressed it. Man, it dominates you in such a way. The medicine are strong, you don’t want to eat and drink anything because of them. It really affects you. I was very concerned… Your hands are tied. You have to be strong, but you can’t.”

Moraes, 37, parted ways with the UFC after a third-round TKO defeat to James Krause last November, his third loss in a row in the octagon. A three-time IBJJF jiu-jitsu world champion as a black belt with UFC wins over the likes of Magny, Means and Ben Saunders, Moraes will focus on his career as a grappler moving forward, but isn’t ruling out returning to MMA for the right offer.

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