At UFC 277, Moreno takes on Kai Kara-France for an interim flyweight title while champion Deiveson Figueiredo recovers from an injury. The fight is a rematch of a 2019 bout which saw Moreno take home a unanimous decision — and fellow flyweight contender Schnell believes Moreno will get his hand raised yet again.
“It’s a tough one,” Schnell said on The MMA Hour. “I think Kai’s got a lot of momentum right now. He’s been able to find that right hand. I look forward to an entertaining fight, but I still believe Moreno has the volume advantage, he’s been extremely accurate here of late, especially through all the ‘Figgy’ fights, and we can’t forget that they have fought before and Brandon was kind of able to serve him up the hands a little bit. I thought Brandon had the advantage there and was able to keep it in that wheelhouse and win that. So we’ll see.”
Though he currently ranked No. 8 in the UFC’s flyweight rankings, Schnell has never faced either man. However, “Danger” did serve as a training partner for Moreno back in 2017. So while he recognizes that Kara-France has improved since his first fight with Moreno, Schnell still favors the former champion to get the job done.
“Kai’s good and has made adjustments and has gotten better places,” Schnell said. “It would be interesting to see him come out and try to wrestle or something, maybe try to steal some rounds with some top control. But Moreno’s dangerous on the ground too. I’ve trained with Moreno. He brought me out before he fought Sergio Pettis. I took a five week whipping from him in Mexico City, so I’m well aware that Moreno’s a guy, too. So I think Moreno gets it done again, but ultimately I’m team flyweight. I want to see those guys scrap.”
Schnell will get what he wants this Saturday when Moreno and Kara-France face off in the co-main event of UFC 277.
The winner of that bout should then get the chance to face Figueiredo to unify the belts, but that isn’t exactly set in stone. Figueiredo is openly uninterested in a fourth fight with Moreno — their series is tied at 1-1-1 — and is contemplating a permanent move up to 135 pounds. That could mean the ultimate winner of Saturday’s interim title bout becomes the undisputed bantamweight champion, but Schnell isn’t sold.
“We’ll see what happens,” Schnell said. “I don’t think it would be wise for [Figueiredo] to leave.
“Guys in the past have been able to bump up to bantamweight and do well, though bantamweight’s a different animal nowadays than it was in the past. It’s scary up there. That top 30 percent of guys can probably all beat each other. It’s one of the deeper divisions. But ‘Figgy’ would probably be able to jump in there and compete.”