At a young age, Renato Moicano didn’t see a clear-cut path on how to make it into the UFC. Training various disciplines like any other kid who picks up a sport, martial arts were just something Moicano enjoyed doing in his free time.
“I started with judo, and after that I transitioned to jiu-jitsu,” Moicano said. “I feel like what made me start was that I always like to compete. In MMA, you can compete in every [discipline], we don’t have limitations. I’ve always loved all martial arts, but if you can put everything together and see who’s the best, I think MMA is by far the best sport in the world.
“When I started, I never thought I’d be here,” he continues. “Even before UFC, in the small leagues in Brazil, I never thought I’d be in the UFC. I always wanted to but, to me, it was too far to reach.”
Twelve years ago, Moicano saw his talent ascend to the top of his class and decided to take his skills to the professional level. In his pro debut, Moicano earned a third-round submission victory by rear naked choke, a submission that became a trademark move for the Brazilian over his career.
In his UFC debut in 2014, Moicano picked up his fifth professional win by rear naked choke and has since grown that number to nine. And despite joining American Top Team to try and improve his wrestling in 2017, Moicano will never shy away from an opportunity to lock in his favorite submission inside the Octagon.
Renato Moicano Fight Week Interview | UFC 281
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Renato Moicano Fight Week Interview | UFC 281
“The rear naked choke is the first submission you learn in jiu-jitsu because it’s basic, it’s simple,” Moicano said. “I like basic stuff; I like simple stuff because maybe I’m not the smartest guy in the world, so I like to stick to simple stuff, and I feel the rear naked choke is a very good tool. When you get someone’s back you just wrap your arms around their neck, squeeze and that’s it.
“I feel like in fighting, the most basic is the most efficient. I remember when I was a kid and they were teaching me, I didn’t know how much money this technique will make for me,” Moicano said, smirking. “I feel grateful that when I was growing up, I got to know jiu jitsu and learn [it] and how rear naked chokes could change my life for the better.”
Those same lessons Moicano learned many years ago are the same ideas he tries to instill in his son Isaac. And though his two-year-old may not understand how the life of a professional mixed martial artist works, Moicano tries to be a good example by creating daily routines and working vigorously to achieve his personal dreams.
“Everything you wish for, you have to work hard,” Moicano said of the message he relays to his son. “If you wish to be something, to do something different, to be great, you have to put in the work. You have to have discipline; you have to set your goals and go straight at [them] and try everything you can do to be the best.
“I show that to my son every day. I wake up, eat my breakfast, go to training, and I tell him that you have to have responsibility, you have to have discipline and you have to focus on what you want. If you do that, you’re going to be successful.”
Part of being a successful mixed martial artist isn’t just what you do in the buildup to your fights, but how you perform under pressure on some of the biggest stages around the world. Moicano’s next stop is “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden.
At UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira, Moicano challenges New Zealand kickboxer Brad Riddell in Saturday’s featured prelim. Both athletes are on the outside looking in at the UFC lightweight Top 15, with a win nearly guaranteeing them a ranked opponent in their next bout.
When looking at how this fight may play out, Moicano didn’t hesitate to give Riddell much earned praise for his mixed martial arts accomplishments. In that same breath, however, Moicano made it clear that he only envisions one outcome at MSG, and that’s him leaving with his hands raised. No, not just because of his experience inside the Octagon and overall skill level, but because of what he’s willing to put on the line to get that result.
“I think it will be a very hard fight,” Moicano said. “The guy’s very good at kickboxing and he also has some grappling experience. I have seen him take down people in other fights, so I feel he’s a complete martial artist and he’s in the UFC not by chance; he’s a good fighter. I’m ready to put on a show.
“I am a UFC veteran, and I fought the best in two divisions. He was also a kickboxer and had over 70 fights in kickboxing, so I’m pretty sure he’s used to the fighting game and he’s comfortable. But I feel like I’m gonna win. In my heart, I feel like I’m going to put in everything to win. It’ll be a battle, but I trust myself, my training and coaches and, at the end of the day, I don’t think it’s because I’m a veteran, I feel it’s who wants it more. And I want it more.”
UFC 281: Adesanya vs Pereira took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 12, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards, and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!