Ismail, Figueiredo’s manager and translator, accused Moreno of betraying Henry Cejudo, the former two-division champ who’s now training Figueiredo for the trilogy at UFC 270.
“We hate traitors,” Ismail said. “In our sport, who betrays doesn’t last long, and Brandon Moreno plays a nice guy. He is not a nice guy. He betrayed Cejudo. Now, Deiveson going to avenge Cejudo [by beating] Moreno.”
Moreno, a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter 24, trained with Cejudo prior to joining the reality show on which Cejudo and Joseph Benavidez served as opposing coaches. Once on the show, he joined Benavidez’s team and afterward continued to train with the four-time title challenger.
Figueiredo took up with Cejudo and other veteran UFC coaches at the Fight Ready training camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., in order to focus on retaking the belt at UFC 270, which takes place Jan. 22. Along the way, he got the inside track on the history at play between Cejudo and champ Moreno.
“Brandon Moreno lived in Cejudo’s house for two years, and after that, he moved to [Joseph] Benavidez to train Benavidez against Cejudo – how crazy is that?” Ismail said. “Cejudo said, ‘Now, he’s going to pay.’ This is what Cejudo keeps telling us.”
Moreno captured the UFC flyweight belt in June by submitting Figueiredo in a rematch after the two fought to a draw six months earlier in a “Fight of the Year” contender.
In both contests, Figueiredo said a hard weight cut affected his performance. But he also said that his commitments outside the cage caught up to him when he opened a new MMA gym and split his focus.
“At the time I fought Moreno for the second time, I was a businessman,” Figueiredo said via Ismail. “I opened a gym, I built the gym, I arrived at the gym and I wrote checks, my work was in the gym and training. Now, I’m focused.”
Initially, there was a question of whether Figueiredo would get an immediate trilogy with Moreno or the new champ would take on former foe Alexandre Pantoja. The former champ said he would have been fine waiting or fighting right away to get his belt back, but with the latter opportunity, he said, “I’m going to take off Brandon Moreno’s head.”
Moreno’s work stateside was always a supplement to his home gym in Tijuana, Mexico, where he took the belt and celebrated with teammates after upsetting Figueiredo.
For the Brazilian ex-champ, a move to the U.S. means investing everything in a new group that includes Cejudo and several of his longtime Brazilian coaches. Everyone is invested in helping Figueiredo win. Some, though, are invested far more than others, according to Ismail.
“Brandon Moreno is going to pay, because now, everything conspires to be a great fight,” the manager said. “It’s going to be a f*cking war.”