SAO PAULO, Brazil — Sergio Moraes is interested in facing another jiu-jitsu specialist in the Octagon.
The three-time jiu-jitsu world champion as a black belt took on Ben Saunders in the preliminary portion of UFC Sao Paulo Saturday night, handing Saunders the first submission defeat of his 34-fight career in MMA with a second-round arm-triangle choke.
”I knew that he was confident on the ground,” Moraes said of Saunders in his post-fight interview, “but there are grapplers and grapplers, he has to know who he’s fighting. If you fight with me on the ground you will tap, I don’t lose positions. I attacked him twice and he almost tapped in the first, time ran out, and the second one he tapped.”
Moraes scored his first submission win since 2013, when he choked out Neil Magny at UFC 163, but says it hasn’t happened much because his opponents always avoid going to the ground with him.
”When an athlete fights my fight, fights with me on the ground, I’m capable of submitting anyone,” Moraes said. “Ben Saunders is an experienced opponent, more than 30 fights, and had never been submitted. He was tonight [laughs].”
With an 8-1-1 record since moving down to welterweight, Moraes said he’s open to the idea of testing his jiu-jitsu skills with fellow black belt Demian Maia.
An Alliance representative when he’s competing in jiu-jitsu, “Serginho” said he would train in Sao Paulo for a fight with Maia, who is a black belt under Alliance leader Fabio Gurgel.
”It’s different eras, we never fought, but who knows,” Moraes said of Maia. “The UFC has already put two athletes from different eras on TUF, (Delson Heleno) ‘Pe de Chumbo’ and I, and ‘Pe de Chumbo’ tapped, and maybe we can fight Demian. It’s an honor to fight Demian, and I know we will go to the ground. If this fight with Demian gets booked, I’ll come to Sao Paulo to train with Fabio Gurgel so we can put on a beautiful grappling battle.
”It would be interesting, but all the respect with we’re talking about Demian. I’ve said this fight was possible, I’ve said that before, but it depended on how my fights went. All the respect to Demian, but if the UFC thinks it’s time, I’m ready, and I hope Demian is ready too.”