Marlon Moraes has finally broken his silence.
The bantamweight talent signed with the UFC after building a long winning streak under the World Series of Fighting banner, having won and defended the promotion’s 135-pound title on many occasions, but came up short in his Octagon debut in June, losing a controversial decision to top contender Raphael Assuncao.
Moraes hasn’t spoken to the media since, but finally broke his silence ahead of his UFC Norfolk clash with John Dodson on Saturday night.
“(I was) pissed, really upset, right?” Moraes told MMA Fighting when asked why he hasn’t done any interviews after his UFC debut. “Man, I don’t have much to say. What am I going to say? What am I going to say? I have to go there and work. I think it’s time to go there and work. It’s time to prove myself.”
Two of the three judges scored the bout in Assuncao’s favor at UFC 212, but most of the media saw Moraes as the winner. Moraes still feels he deserved the victory, but his performance still bothers him.
“I didn’t do what I expected. I expected way more,” Moraes said. “That fight is still stuck in my throat, and I hope that Saturday night I do everything different. I will do everything different.
“Man, I think I had a horrible performance, but I still have the feeling that I won,” he continued. “Everything happens for a reason. He had to be the winner and I respect God’s will. I worked hard for Saturday’s fight and I won’t leave any doubts.”
So what has he learned with that loss?
“In the technical aspect, nothing,” he said. “Just the attitude. I have to be more aggressive. I will be more aggressive in this fight.”
Moraes and Assuncao are both set to return to action Saturday, with Assuncao taking on Matthew Lopez. You can argue that Moraes got a bigger fight in Dodson and that means UFC officials also saw him as the winner in Rio de Janeiro, but Moraes just sees it as him refusing to pick opponents.
“I’m not here to build records. This story about building records is over,” Moraes said. “I’m in the UFC to get to the top and go after my dream. I’m here to go to the top in the UFC. I don’t want to just fight. Some athletes are in the UFC to fight this or that guy, but that’s not me. I’m here to fight the best and prove I’m the best.”
Dodson and Assuncao are two completely different fighters style-wise, and Moraes believes this match-up suits him better.
“We are two quick, powerful athletes,” he said. “He has a dangerous hand, and so do I. He has a dangerous game, and it will be a stand-up battle. I expect to connect my punches and kicks and leave with the win. The ideal scenario is to win in dominant fashion.
“He’s not a perfect athlete. Every athlete has flaws, standing or on the ground. I do, too. We all have holes in our games, and I will use my skills to capitalize on those holes and get a submission or a knockout.”
The Brazilian bantamweight doesn’t expect to be a fight away from the title with a win Saturday, even if he becomes the first man to stop Dodson in MMA, but hopes that it keeps him in the conversation.
“I want to continue fighting the best fighters,” Moraes said. “I’m not thinking about the belt or anything like that right now, I’m just thinking about the win. I don’t choose opponents, but my goal is to get there.
The fact that Dodson holds a knockout win over the current UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw doesn’t change much, Moraes says.
“Dodson beat Dillashaw, but that was a long time ago,” he said. “He was another Dillashaw back then. But many people still talk about it. I don’t think about it, I just think about being better than John Dodson.”