LOS ANGELES – UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno would like to return to the octagon in November against a new challenger. An immediate rematch with Deiveson Figueiredo is not on his immediate wish list.
“It’s obvious Figueiredo wants the next one because he lost the last one,” Figueiredo said during a media lunch on Tuesday. “But man, the last fight, I dominated him, in the first round, in striking, in grappling, in wrestling, so obviously I’m open to fight again with him. But I think he needs to fight with somebody.”
Figueiredo has called for a third fight after submitting to Moreno in the third round of their UFC 263 co-headliner. Their first meeting ended in a draw and “Fight of the Year” candidate that Figueiredo said was close because he had a tough weight cut. The Brazilian champ has talked about moving up a division to bantamweight, but recently pivoted back to Moreno.
The 27-year-old champ is in the midst of a press tour to celebrate his win, which made him the first native Mexican to win a UFC title. Now, he is interested in avoiding the pitfalls of those before him and holding onto it.
“I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder guy,” Moreno said. “I want to build a legacy. I don’t want to be that guy who won the fight against Deiveson, changed his life, and then started to lose. I don’t want to do that. So I need to take care of all the stuff I can control.”
Much more interesting to Moreno is a matchup that will provide a manageable matchup while building his star. A former champ might be the prescription for that.
“Cody Garbrandt wants to come in to the division, and I know he’s not in the best part of his career, but he’s a good name,” Moreno said. “He’s a former champ. He has a really good brand behind him. He’s an option.
“The fight between [Alexandre] Pantoja and [Brandon] Royval can be a possibility. Obviously, Askar Askarov. But he had an injury in his right hand. So he will be out five or six months. Right now, I’m thinking about going back to the gym. I’ll be prepared for October or November. I think November is better. I don’t care the name. I just want to fight in that month.”
Garbrandt was an earlier option for Figueiredo, but his team instead pushed for a fight with Moreno, who went on a 4-0-1 streak to get into title contention. When he still held the bantamweight title, Garbrandt pushed the idea of moving down to flyweight and becoming a two-division champion. At one point, he was even in the running to face now-former kingpin Demetrious Johnson. He most recently fought in May, when he lost a decision to top contender Rob Font for his fourth loss in five recent outings.
Moreno, the No. 1 ranked fighter in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings and the No. 13 pound-for-pound fighter, met the president of Mexico during his press tour and appeared well at ease in his first American presser after winning the title. He said he’d taken his cue from past champs on how not to behave.
“We can see in the history a lot of guys who get the gold and start to change a little bit and start to be assholes,” he said. “I don’t want to be that guy. I was born in a very humble family that taught me a lot of good stuff in my life. I’m trying to have some fun with the people, too. I love to be champion right now. But I can give you the belt right now.”