One of the reasons UFC welterweight Alex Morono signaled his willingness to fight Diego Sanchez next was his legendary status. But there was also another reason he sought the matchup before he was tapped to fight Donald Cerrone at UFC Vegas 26.
“He would just run to the middle of the octagon and would start throwing down, and I always wanted to fight him for that,” Morono said of Sanchez on What the Heck. “But when he got this coach, I kind of wanted to fight him to let his coach know that he’s just wrong what they’re doing.”
That was before Joshua Fabia became one of the most controversial figures in the MMA community as his role in Sanchez’s camp was further exposed. Since Sanchez’s removal from the bout with Cerrone and release from contract, several MMA fighters have expressed grave concern for Sanchez’s well-being. Morono is one of those fighters.
“Genuinely, I still like Diego,” he said. “I watch his interviews, and he seems like a sweet guy and seems like he’s being led astray. It’s one of those things where everyone around him is like, ‘Hey, this guy’s bad news, you need to get away from him,’ and you just know that guy’s in his ear telling him that they’re all wrong, I’m here to protect you.”
At the same time, the events that led to Sanchez’s ouster and his promotion to a co-main event with Cerrone, a marquee opponent, was nothing but good for his career. So while he’s not entirely thrilled with the circumstances, he can’t gripe too much about the result.
“Weird’s a good word for it, and sad is another good description for it,” he said. “If we really break it down, I can thank Fabia’s weirdness for getting me this opportunity. This has been by far the biggest thing I’ve ever done in the UFC. It’s just crazy how the butterfly effect works.”
Cerrone, as it turned out, was the other name Morono said he called his manager to request. And despite stopping the octagon vet with a vicious flurry of punches, he believes his win was the best-case scenario for the veteran.
“I wasn’t really thinking about this before the fight, but especially after, I’m just glad there was no damage, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be healed up in a week or two and be able to get back to doing what he likes,” Morono said. “Not that I didn’t want to hurt him – if you’re fighting somebody, that’s the goal. But I’m glad neither of us got truly damaged.”
Of course, Cerrone has sustained a tremendous amount of damage in his decade-plus in the sport, which is why many in the MMA industry want to see him retire. But Morono compares what happened to Cerrone to one-time title challenger Dominick Reyes, who suffered a broken orbital in a knockout loss to Jiri Prochazka, and sees the best of a bad situation.
“If you get damaged with a victory, it’s worth it,” Morono said. “But if you get something broken with a loss, it compounds the difficulty factor.”
For the next walk, Morono would like to keep that train rolling by next facing one-time welterweight title challenger Carlos Condit or ex-welterweight champ Robbie Lawler. If those callouts fail, he’d be open to fighting Randy Brown, a veteran welterweight with a similar career path.
“I like fighting vets, because I only started training because I was a fan,” Morono said. “So to be able to fight these guys is just cool.”