Marlon Moraes has no doubters after Friday night.
In the UFC Fight Night 131 main event at Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, New York, the Brazilian bantamweight contender stopped Jimmie Rivera in less than a minute. Moraes was a slight underdog heading into the highly-anticipated contest, but he proved in one of the toughest tests of his career that he’s ready for a crack at the title.
What was the highlight of the fight?
In a fight that lasts only 33 seconds, the stoppage is the only highlight — and that’s not a bad thing. Before Rivera could even manage to get any offense going, Moraes landed a nasty left head kick that badly hurt his opponent. Rivera wasn’t entirely out straight away, but some ground-and-pound from “Magic” sealed the deal. The head kick — the beginning of the end for Rivera and his 20-fight winning streak — was the highlight of the fight.
Where do these two go from here?
Moraes is certainly in the title mix at 135 pounds. Unfortunately for him, champ T.J. Dillashaw is already booked for a championship rematch against rival Cody Garbrandt at UFC 227 in August, but Moraes may be willing to wait for the winner. Longtime contender Raphael Assuncao likely has something to say about Moraes getting the next title shot after upcoming challenger Garbrandt, as Assuncao beat Moraes last year.
Since that bout, though, Moraes has gone 3-0 with wins over John Dodson, Aljamain Sterling, and now Rivera. He has momentum and I won’t complain whatsoever if he leap frogs Assuncao in the title-shot race.
This was a rather large setback for Rivera, as he was riding so much momentum and nearing a title shot himself. But everyone gets caught at least once in MMA, and Friday was that time for Rivera. He’ll get back in the gym, head back to the drawing board, and come back better than ever after a bit of a resting period.
Watch now, later, or never?
33 seconds of your time. Watch now.