Less than three years ago, Brandon Moreno was released from the UFC and now he’s the new flyweight champion.
On Saturday night at UFC 263, the 27-year-old Mexican born fighter realized a dream come true after submitting Deiveson Figueiredo with a rear-naked choke to claim the 125-pound championship in front of a raucous crowd in Glendale, Ariz.
The official stoppage came at 2:26 in the third round as Moreno becomes the fourth flyweight champion in UFC history.
“This moment is so amazing,” Moreno said with tears in his eyes. “This f*cking life, the UFC released me from the company … but watch me now talking to you, holding this heavy belt, I feel so amazing.
“I worked so hard for this. Watch me now holding this. It’s unbelievable. I’m so f*cking happy! Viva Mexico!”
Off to a fast start, Moreno was very active with a variety of striking combinations that included a slick jab and numerous kicks to the legs. The volume was relentless as Figueiredo was struggling to find an opening to unleash his powerful counters.
Late in the opening round, Moreno fired off a perfectly timed jab that put Figueiredo down on the ground and the former Ultimate Fighter competitor jumped to the mat in an attempt to score the finish. Figueiredo recovered to get back to his feet but he had some work to do as he returned to his corner.
As he attempted to change the momentum, Figueiredo decided to turn to his wrestling to slow down Moreno but he just could hold onto the position. In return, Moreno brought Figueiredo crashing down to the canvas while he looked to display some of his own grappling acumen.
From there, Moreno was smart with his offense, never giving Figueiredo too much room to breathe while also maintaining control. Moreno dished out more of the same as the fight moved into the third round after realizing that he was able to handle Figueiredo on the ground.
Another takedown and a lightning quick transition led to Moreno taking the back and after locking on the body triangle, he was fishing for submissions as he sought to finish the fight right away. Figueiredo resisted as best he could but eventually, Moreno wrapped his arm under the chin and the Brazilian had no choice but to tap out from the submission.
It took Moreno a few moments to realize the gravity of the situation as his celebration began and the emotion came pouring out of him after claiming the flyweight championship.
As for Figueiredo, he was humble in defeat as he actually picked up Moreno and hoisted him into the air after he was announced as the winner.
“The man I am, I preach love thy neighbor,” Figueiredo said afterwards. “Today, the biggest man was Brandon Moreno. Today was his day.”