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Brandon Moreno of Mexico celebrates during UFC Fight Night event at Arena Ciudad de Mexico on September 21, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Zuffa LLC)

It Is More Than Just A Belt For Brandon Moreno

Brandon Moreno Is Ready To Become The First UFC Champion From Mexico at UFC 263 

When his five rounds with UFC flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo were over last December, Brandon Moreno did more than just be one-half of one of the best fights of 2020. He proved that while boxing has had the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez, Salvador Sanchez, Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manuel Marquez to deliver epic wars while representing Mexico, now MMA has “The Assassin Baby” to do the same for the fighting rich nation.

Sometimes, that’s worth more than a championship belt.

“Maybe that's why the people feel so proud of my performance because with that fight they remember the amazing wars guys like Chavez, Marquez and Barrera put in the ring,” Moreno said. “The plan is always to beat your opponent in the first round easy, but at this level it's so hard because the other guys are very tough, too. So obviously, I'm trying to be the best with technique and my game plan, but other times it needs to be heart and that's it.”

Two Title-Fights & A Stacked Card: Order UFC 263 Here!

Moreno was all heart against Figueiredo, and the Brazilian champion returned the favor. After 25 minutes, a draw verdict was rendered, and this Saturday, they’ll run it back in the co-main event of UFC 263 in Glendale, Arizona. And this time, Moreno promises that with both fighters having more than three weeks to prepare, the bout will look a lot different.

“The first fight was hard for both of us,” he said. “It was short notice, just three weeks, and I tried to make the best game plan I could do with that time. So I was very careful with his power because he's strong and very powerful, especially with his right hand. I remember in the fight I felt his power and obviously he punches hard but...he says he's a God, but he's not a God, he's a human just like me or you. So I learned a lot in that fight and the main thing I learned was that I need to get more confidence because I know I can put damage on him.”

The Rise Of Brandon Moreno
The Rise Of Brandon Moreno

In the course of the back-and-forth that made the fight an instant classic, both combatants had their moments where it seemed like one more shot or one more second in a grappling exchange would be the one to turn things in either fighter’s direction, but then the other would roar back, with the draw being the fairest outcome. And when the 27-year-old Moreno returned home to Tijuana, there was no talk of a stalemate, only of the glorious effort put in by their favorite son.

“The people were very happy with me and my performance,” he said. “I love that people are starting to know about me after that fight, and Mexico is starting to know more about the sport. But they still need guys like me, guys who put the name of mixed martial arts very, very high. So everything changed after that fight. Social media followers, people in the street trying to get a picture or autograph. And that makes me feel amazing, to be honest.”

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Moreno has earned every ounce of that recognition, and though his status as an MMA pioneer in Mexico was already secured before the UFC 256 bout in Las Vegas, after ascending to the top of the division on the strength of a 4-0-1 streak, he’s gaining international recognition as the fighter with the smile a mile wide and the heart that stretches even wider.

Brandon Moreno of Mexico kicks Kai Kara-France of New Zealand in their flyweight bout during the UFC 245 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Brandon Moreno of Mexico kicks Kai Kara-France of New Zealand in their flyweight bout during the UFC 245 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Now all he’s being asked to do is do it again. That’s no issue for Moreno, who estimates that he’s watched the first fight ten times.

That’s it?

“I know, it's not too much, but I have a good memory,” he laughs.

UFC 263 EMBEDDED: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 

But as he breaks the fight down, he does see things he can improve on, and with no injuries and a full gas tank the second time around, he’s confident that he will return home with a new belt in his carry-on bag and a permanent place in the history books as the first UFC champion from Mexico.

“The first fight, you need to remember the hard pace we put in that fight,” Moreno said. “The fifth round, at least me, I was very tired, but I wasn't like a dead guy. I was trying to go forward and trying to pick my shots because my shoulder was f**ked up. For this fight, I've been trying to work on my cardio a lot and my strength and conditioning because I want to have an even better pace. I need to put pressure on and I need to be aggressive with him. I'm trying to make a better gameplan, but I think the last fight was good for me. I just need to change a few things about my gameplan, about my performance, and the last fight was almost for me, so I'm trying to work with that base.”

UFC 263 FREE FIGHTS: Deiveson Figueiredo vs Joseph Benavidez 2 | Nate Diaz vs Anthony Pettis | Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori 1 | Leon Edwards vs Donald Cerrone | Israel Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum | Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno 1

As for that belt, Moreno says, “It's more than just the belt. It's more for my life, for my family. Everything changed after the last fight, so imagine if this time I get the title. I know my life can change again, and better. So I'm excited. I've worked so hard to beat Deiveson Figueiredo, and if I get the title in my hands, I know it will be awesome and I can't wait to live that moment.”

Brandon Moreno Is Ready For Rematch Against Deiveson Figueiredo | UFC 263
Brandon Moreno Is Ready For Rematch Against Deiveson Figueiredo | UFC 263

But does he have a place in the house picked out for it yet?

“Obviously, yes,” he laughs. “The family has a special place for the belt, definitely.”