Marlon Moraes is a fighter that epitomises the success of the World Series of Fighting’s rise, going from obscurity and near-retirement to being widely considered a top-10 fighter in the bantamweight division. Most notable is his decision win over former WEC champion Miguel Torres, a win which really opened the eyes of MMA media and fans alike.
Moraes will be fighting for the vacant WSOF bantamweight championship in his next fight against Josh Rettinghouse – who recently defeated Alexis Vila – and, considering the relative ease with which he has got past his recent opponents, is heavily favoured coming into the bout.
Moraes currently trains with Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza and a number of other top fighters at Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu, with the aforementioned Edgar being one fighter who shares a similar style to the Brazilian’s, with speed, movement and elusiveness being key to both fighters’ attacks. With a six fight win streak and 4-0 under the WSOF banner, Moraes has quickly established himself as a top ranked bantamweight and will look to solidify his place amongst the rankings by winning WSOF gold.
With wins over Tyson Nam, Miguel Torres and Carson Beebe in recent times, Moraes has looked like a man possessed and has all the motivation in the world coming into the bout with Rettinghouse. His opponent, nicknamed ‘The Finisher’, was an underdog coming into his recent win over Alexis Vila, the most impressive of his short MMA career. With 7 wins in his last 8, Rettinghouse will be a tough test for Moraes. I caught up with the Brazilian ahead of his bout on March 29 at WSOF 9 in Las Vegas, NV.
JC: You’ve quickly established yourself as one of the top bantamweights in the world, how do you feel about receiving this sort of credit from fans and media?
MM: I feel so happy because I’ve been working on the sport since I was 9 years old, but I still want to do more.
JC: How did you feel after dominating Miguel Torres, a fight which you were a huge underdog in?
MM: After the Torres fight I saw that I can fight anybody in my weight division, Torres won the world championship and beat a lot of top guys, but after the fight with my performance I felt like it’s my time now.
JC: Is your dream to fight in the UFC like most MMA fighters?
MM: Yes, it is. But now my focus is on the WSOF belt and I will be representing WSOF around the world doing as good as they do with myself.
JC: After consecutive losses it is reported that you were considering quitting MMA in order to focus on Muay-Thai full time. Are these reports true, and if so are you glad that you stuck with MMA?
MM: Yes it is true, after the couple of losses I heard from some people that I should stop fighting in MMA, but I have real friends that pushed me and believed in me. They helped me and I got motivation to restart and here I am. I’m so glad to have real friends like Edson Barboza, Raphael Chavez and Anderson. They are not only coaches and training partners, they are real friends. They were with me and believed me in the most important moment of my life.
JC: Your footwork is considered some of the greatest in the sport and many members of the media liken you to featherweight contender Frankie Edgar. Do you agree with these comparisons?
MM: Yes I do. Frankie is one of my main training partners and coaches, and I’m so happy that people are comparing me to Frankie. He is a true champion, I’ve been working with him every day and learning with him a little bit about footwork amongst other things.
JC: You trained your wrestling with Edgar for the Beebe fight, but do you ever train stand-up together?
MM: Yes we do train everything together, we are training partners. I’m so glad to say that I am part of Team Edgar, Ricardo Almeida, Mark Henry, Brian Blues, Akira, Ligouri and many others.
JC: At just 25 years old and already considered a top 10 bantamweight, it is quite scary how good you could become in the future. Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
MM: I see myself with the WSOF title and UFC title, just give me the shot.
JC: Ray Sefo stated that you will be fighting for the WSOF bantamweight belt in your next fight; how does that make you feel after being so close to quitting the sport only a few years ago?
MM: It is the opportunity of my life, and it’s time to prove what I can do and where I am going to be.
JC: You moved to New Jersey to train with Ricardo Almeida and his team of very talented fighters, do you think this is the main reason for you becoming one of the best 135lbs fighters in the world?
MM: To be working with Almeida’s team is a big pleasure for me, and for sure I have learned a lot from them. The most important thing is that it doesn’t matter what happens in the cage, they will still believe and be with me.
I would like to thank Marlon Moraes for taking the time out to answer these questions, and wish him the best of luck in his fight with Josh Rettinghouse at WSOF 9. You can follow Moraes on Twitter: @MMArlonMoraes