When Marlon Moraes announced his retirement from MMA in April, it seemed more of a retirement from competing in the UFC more than the sport itself.
Moraes made the decision to retire following his fourth straight stoppage loss against Song Yadong at UFC Vegas 50. Five months later, the retirement was over and he had signed with the PFL — essentially returning to the organization that was named World Series of Fighting in its first iteration, where he compiled a record of 11-0.
Ahead of his first official PFL bout against Sheymon Moraes — who steps in for the injured Shane Burgos — at the PFL World Championship event this Friday in New York City, Moraes reflected on the tail end of his octagon tenure and why he made the choice to turn the page.
“I just wasn’t feeling it anymore in the UFC,” Moraes said on The MMA Hour. “Things weren’t going my way, and I just lost the motivation after the fight [with Song]. I’m a hard working guy, I train hard for every single fight and things just weren’t going my way, and I couldn’t see anything different than time — I needed some time with my family, I needed time with myself, I needed to see everything that I’ve done in my career and that was important for me.
“I’m here. I’m young, I still have a lot left in me, and the click that I needed was this opportunity to compete for the PFL, different atmosphere, different challenges, and that’s why I’m back. I’m happy, and more important, I am ready.”
Prior to his current four-fight skid, Moraes earned a shot at the undisputed UFC bantamweight title after winning five of six, including stoppage wins over Jimmie Rivera, Raphael Assuncao, and current UFC champ Aljamain Sterling. “Magic” was finished by Henry Cejudo in his only UFC title bout at UFC 238 in June 2019.
As time went on, Moraes knew he still had the hunger to compete, he just needed a fresh coat of paint. After speaking with PFL brass, Moraes realized that was the organization he needed to compete for.
“I know I have the talent, I know I have the skills, but I just didn’t feel like the UFC [was for me] anymore,” Moraes said. “With the UFC, I just felt, ‘Not anymore.’ The opportunities with the PFL, other organizations, I wasn’t even thinking about. I [thought] about them later, and I’m thankful to Ray Sefo for the opportunity, for the talks, and he put it in my mind that I had the skills and I could compete with the best in the world.”
The Moraes vs. Moraes bout serves as a rematch from their WSOF bantamweight title bout in August 2015, which Marlon won via third-round submission.
For the 34-year-old former WSOF champ and one-time UFC title challenger, Moraes is excited to test himself at a new weight class against several fighters at featherweight who have caught his eye.
“It might not be it, I have a lot left in me,” Moraes explained. “I see these guys now and I’m excited again. I was supposed to fight Shane Burgos, he was a big name in the UFC too, and there’s other names like Sheymon, like Brendan [Loughnane], Bubba Jenkins, they’re all good fighters in the PFL.
“At some point, when we’re not in the UFC we think, ‘Oh, UFC, UFC, UFC,’ and then when you’re in the UFC, you’re like, ‘Man, it’s not just the UFC.’ MMA is bigger than the UFC.”