Albert Morales almost never touches gloves with his opponents at the beginning of a fight. One exception to this is his last foe, Thomas Almeida, who he wants a rematch with.
Albert Morales took on a big task in his last fight. In only his second UFC appearance, he took the trek down to Brazil and faced ranked bantamweight Thomas Almeida in the UFC Fight Night 100 co-main event. Though he came up short, suffering a second-round TKO loss, he performed better than many expected and took a lot away from the experience.
Morales is clearly never a fighter to back down from a challenge. He fought one of the most dangerous men in the 135-pound division in enemy territory on a month’s notice. It cost him his first professional loss, and he wants to avenge that loss.
“I want to go fight Thomas Almeida. If I could, I’d fight him next fight with a full camp. But realistically, I see myself fighting him after two fights,” Morales, who fights Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 209 on Saturday, told BloodyElbow.com’s The MMA Circus. “Definitely gotta get on the mic and let everybody know that I want that fight back. And I gotta have great wins. I gotta knock out Andre this week, and then I gotta knock out the next guy. I gotta get those two or three wins. And then I want to fly out to Brazil on a full camp. I want two and a half weeks out there, and then you’re gonna see a good fight.
“I just feel like I need to avenge that loss. I just need that back. I need it to go full circle. I rushed into that event. My team knew I rushed into that event. But I’m not going to miss an opportunity. That was an opportunity of a lifetime. I got to fight Thomas Almeida. I wouldn’t take the loss back for anything. But I need to get that rematch, and I need to finish that full circle and get back on track.”
Though his first bout with Almeida only happened last November, Morales believes that his skills and composure have already gotten much better and that the rematch would subsequently play out much differently.
“There’s a lot of tools that we didn’t have back then,” he said. “And it’s crazy because ‘back then’ was only three, four months ago. But I came home and I got back to work. There’s more tools that are going to be added.
“I’m definitely gonna stay a lot more composed. Not every punch has to be a power punch. Not every punch has to be the one that tries to knock someone out. That’s what I picked up this fight. It’s the little [punches] that make them hard.”
Morales said he respects Almeida. The Brazilian was one of his favourite fighters when he was still en route to the UFC and fighting on the regional circuit. So much so that Morales touched Almeida’s gloves at the beginning of their fight, and that’s something “The Warrior” almost never does.
“I don’t touch gloves with anybody,” he said. “But for some reason when Thomas Almeida raised his glove to touch my glove, I touched his glove. It was like a crazy moment. It was weird. I’m staring him down, I’m doing everything up. I go to circle out and he puts his glove up, and I’m like, ‘Oh hell, f-ck it, bait!’ And there it was.”
Morales, to this day, doesn’t know why he agreed to touch his opponent’s gloves despite typically making a point of never touching gloves with a fighter.
“It was just my mind and my body,” he said. “It could’ve been an old fan. It could’ve been just super respect. I don’t know what it was. Definitely the next time we fight, we’re not touching gloves.”
This was only Morales’ second time (to his memory) touching his opponent’s gloves before a fight. The first time happened during his amateur career years ago. He doesn’t usually touch gloves because he prefers to save the respect for after he and his opponent throw down.
“It has nothing to do with anybody. I don’t hate anybody I fight. I respect them, I appreciate them — especially if they come to fight; then I really appreciate them,” he said. “It’s just something I developed. I just don’t want that first contact to be me touching gloves. My respect is a handshake and the end of the fight, or a handshake before the fight, or a handshake when I first meet you. But after that, it’s mental warfare. I’m not here to make friends. My first contact is going to be my left hand smacking your face and your head snapping back.”
Morales isn’t too concerned that this may tarnish his look. He is aware that some fans could look at this and see nothing but disrespect, but he believes and hopes that his post-fight actions make up for not touching gloves ahead of time.
“I show at the end of the fight what my character is. If I finish him and hurt him, you’ll see me go over and help him up, give him a hug, and say thank you,” he said. “Fans that don’t see my explanation on this, of course they’ll say, ‘Oh, he’s a dick.’ But I kind of let it be known. I don’t walk forward before I fight. The first thing I do is I kind of circle around the cage, instead of taking the center of the Octagon. So it kind of cancels that out. You see that I’m not going to touch your glove. I don’t do it in a Ronda Rousey-Holly Holm way.”
Morales vs. Soukhamthath will serve as UFC 209’s opening bout on Fight Pass, with action kicking off at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.