For the past two years, the UFC flyweight title picture has been dominated by the ongoing rivalry between Moreno and Figueiredo. After they fought to a draw in their first encounter at UFC 256, the two split their next two bouts, leading the UFC’s first ever tetralogy, which takes place at UFC 283.
During that time, the relationship between the two has had peaks and valleys, and as they head into the homestretch of their latest fight, Moreno said things are once again getting chippy.
“It’s very weird – it’s weird because we did the media tour and everything, and it’s always the same,” Moreno told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “Since the first fight him in 2020, in Arizona, then in Anaheim, everything is so fake with him, his character and all that stuff. He tries to look like the bad guy. But people can’t see the fakeness with him. He tried to intimidate me here in Rio in November, but I was like, ‘I don’t care, man. What can you do? We fought three times already.’”
Moreno said familiarity takes a toll. Having spent a full year focused solely on facing Figueiredo over and over again, he believes that his performance suffered in their trilogy bout.
So, Moreno argues, having the interim title fight with Kai Kara-France at UFC 277 was a welcome reprieve from the monotony, and it’s giving him a renewed energy heading into a fourth fight with Figueiredo.
“I feel tired, of course, but I felt more tired in my last fight against him,” Moreno said. “The fight against him in Anaheim, I felt done with this guy. But now, after the fight against Kai Kara-France, I feel like my mind has a new view on my career. I rested a little bit from the same game plan against Deiveson, the same face, the same promotion of this guy trying to intimidate me.
“So of course I’m still tired of him, but I’m excited. I feel a different vibe than the last fight. I feel so excited to fight against him again and be the undisputed champ of the company, and put a nice sticker on my legacy with this fight.”
Things are still different this time around for Moreno, though. The interim flyweight champion was forced to champ camps during his preparation as a result of the ongoing investigation into James Krause. But perhaps more important is that the fight takes places in Figueiredo’s home country as part of the first UFC card in Brazil in almost three years.
Brazil is one of the most notoriously intimidating fan bases in MMA, and Moreno figures to be public enemy No. 1 at UFC 283. But he’s not concerned, and he’s not even so sure that’s true.
“I don’t care,” he said. “The people say that but, first of all, the people feel very comfortable with me. I’m from Latin America, so we share a lot different traditions, how we communicate with each other. And second, I don’t feel Figueiredo has a good relationship with the Brazilian people. So let’s see what happens. I’m prepared for the worst scenario, but I don’t know. I feel at the end, the Brazilian people will be with me.”
Whether the crowd loves him or hates him ultimately doesn’t matter to Moreno. The most important thing is reclaiming the undisputed flyweight title and, hopefully, finishing his rivalry with Figueiredo for good.
“I will finish this guy in the third or fourth round, for sure,” Moreno said. “[Then] we move on with my life. Don’t worry, guys, Moreno vs. Figueiredo is no more after all this. I’m putting all effort for that, and let’s see what happens.”
UFC 283 takes place on Jan. 21 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.