Once seen as one of the best bantamweights on the planet, Marlon Moraes wants to revisit those glorious times as a PFL fighter.
The former WSOF champion and one-time UFC title challenger returns to the PFL cage on Thursday night to face undefeated featherweight prospect Gabriel Braga. His inglorious task is to snap an uncomfortable six-fight skid, which all came by way of stoppage.
“I’m going with everything I got, man – I’m going in,” Moraes said on a recent episode of MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “As a fan, it’s great to watch me fighting that way. Everybody knows that Marlon is a guy that loves to stand and trade and go for the knockout, someone who doesn’t like to go to decisions, and Marlon needs a knockout. Marlon needs a finish. It’s going to be great for the fans to watch a fight like that, and I promise I will not let anyone down.”
The American Top Team product parted ways with the UFC after consecutive defeats to Cory Sandhagen, Rob Font, Merab Dvalishvili and Song Yadong, and he came up short in his PFL debut in a rematch with Sheymon Moraes at 145 pounds. Moraes was then slated to face 2022 champion Brendan Loughnane in the first stop of the 2023 season, and he went down in the second round courtesy of Loughnane’s violent leg kicks.
“It’s time to turn the switch and win a fight. I need a win,” Moraes said. “But there’s no point trying to rush things. It’s OK. It’s all a phase, and I’m sure this phase will pass. We fought last year’s champion in the first fight, and it was a very difficult fight, and we knew it would be, but sadly he came with a game plan we didn’t expect. It was good because we saw another weapon of his. We’ll put on a good fight now, a finish, and maybe we’ll fight him again [in the playoffs].”
Moraes may guarantee a spot in the 2023 playoffs with a first-round finish over Braga at the Overtime Elite Arena in Atlanta, and he promises to be “stronger than ever” this time around.
“I’ll attack from start to finish,” Moraes said. “Like [PFL] says, it’s now or never. I have nothing to lose. I’ve achieved a lot in this sport and I’ll achieve this, too. I’ll advance [to the playoffs]. It will be nice to advance and then watch the other [featherweights] fighting and seeing who fights who in the semifinals.”
Braga, his opponent at PFL 4, currently sits at No. 4 in the league’s featherweight standings following a split decision victory over Jesus Pinedo in April, behind Movlid Khaybulaev, Bubba Jenkins and Loughnane. Moraes said the fellow 145-pounders are “not from another world,” and he can pull this off.
“I’m obviously not the biggest, not the strongest,” Moraes said, “but I have what it takes to fight any one them.”