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Brandon Moreno of Mexico reacts to the finish of his UFC flyweight championship fight during the UFC 290 event at T-Mobile Arena on July 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Brandon Moreno: Putting All His Heart Into The Fight

Two-Time Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno Eyes A Spectacular Performance When He Headlines UFC Mexico City

Every fight is serious business for former two-time UFC flyweight champion Brandon Moreno, but perhaps this Saturday’s main event against Brandon Royval holds a little more weight for “The Assassin Baby,” as he’s made his training camp a LEGO-free zone.

“I'm in Puebla, so I don't have my Legos here,” said Moreno as training camp was winding down. “So that will be after the fight. I have to bring a lot of different stuff like my clothes, my equipment, my supplements. It's a lot of different stuff for my luggage. So I prefer to leave it at home. Maybe later I can buy something here.”

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Moreno says it’s all about logistics, but I’m going to say having fun on his down time in camp is a no-no, simply because a second win over Royval, who he defeated in 2020, could put him back in a rematch with Alexandre Pantoja for the 125-pound crown.

 

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Yes, another fight with another old foe, something the 30-year-old from Tijuana is used to. If we’re keeping score, he’s having his second fight with Royval, he’s fought Pantoja twice (three if you count their bout on The Ultimate Fighter), Kai Kara-France twice, and, of course, there was his four-fight series with Deiveson Figueiredo. Moreno could have had a fresh face to fight in Amir Albazi, but when Albazi was replaced by Royval, it was back to revisit old business.

“It is what it is at the end, right?” laughed Moreno. “Since 2020, I've been fighting with the same guys over and over, which is kind of boring. I was excited to fight against Amir because it's a new body for me. It's a new opponent, but the goal is the same. I just want to get the title back, and I'm ready to fight. I'm a fighter.”

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When it comes to that, Moreno is among the best in the world, and at this point, belt or not belt, he’s a star both at home and abroad. Being a two-time champion and beating the top 125-pounders in the game will earn you that respect. But, Moreno still wants to be champ again, and not so he can do it for the ‘Gram. So what does he miss?

“Nothing,” he said. “The fact to be the champ, but that's it. Nothing has really changed in my life. I have my family, I have my daughters, my wife, and my training partners, my friends, and my coaches. So all my close circle, all my loved ones, are with me right now. So it's just having the belt and that's it. Obviously, you have a few benefits, but I don't really care. I don’t know if you can see it, but I'm not the guy who really loves to be the champ and post pictures. That's just not me.”

Brandon Moreno of Mexico attempts to submit Askar Askarov of Russia in their flyweight bout during UFC Fight Night event at Arena Ciudad de Mexico on September 21, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Zuffa LLC)
Brandon Moreno of Mexico attempts to submit Askar Askarov of Russia in their flyweight bout during UFC Fight Night event at Arena Ciudad de Mexico on September 21, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Zuffa LLC)

Moreno does know that the belt is a symbol that he’s the top dog in the division, and he wants that distinction again, so to get it back, he’s got to win on Saturday and keep winning. And since we’re on the Instagram topic, a look at his page will show a UFC star who is surrounding himself with hungry up and comers who are keeping him hungry.

“They motivate me to keep going and they push me every single training session because they're very tough and the room is very hard sometimes,” said Moreno. “I'm in Puebla, training in Diego Lopes’ gym, and he's insane. I'm training with Alessandro Costa, too, and I brought a guy from Dallas, Nick Piccinnini and that guy is amazing. He's not in the UFC yet, but he's going to do huge things in the future. So they motivate me every single time. They push me to never give up and when I'm feel tired or I have low motivation, they just give me the power to keep going.”

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And just in case, if that motivation wanes slightly, I’m sure a packed house of Mexico City fans will give Moreno just the boost he needs on Saturday night, especially since he hasn’t fought in his home country since a 2019 draw with Askar Askarov. That was the first fight of Moreno’s second (and current) stint in the UFC, and while the draw verdict wasn’t one he wanted in his return, it did kick off a six-fight unbeaten streak that culminated in a world championship less than two years later.

Brandon Moreno Fight Week Interview | UFC Mexico City
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Brandon Moreno Fight Week Interview | UFC Mexico City
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“My last fight in 2019 was so different because everybody knows the history. The UFC released me from the company and I came back. I fought Askar Askarov, a really tough Russian fighter. All the people thought I won the fight, but, at the end, the judges gave me a draw. I felt a little disappointed and a little frustrated in that moment. But that fight was like the start of a new journey for me. And after that fight I just kept winning and I went for the title and then I won in the rematch against Figueiredo. So now, talking about all that experience, the belt two times, and all the good things the other Mexicans are doing by themselves, like Yair Rodriguez, like Alexa Grasso, she's the flyweight champion, I think this event will be very important for us. And the arena is so loud already, so I'm expecting huge, huge support from the Mexican fans.”

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Those cheers will likely be loudest for the last man to walk on Saturday night, and yeah, that’s pressure, but as the saying goes, pressure makes diamonds.

“For sure, yes, I feel pressure, but let's be real, man, I've been under huge pressure since 2021,” Moreno laughs. “Every single fight is for a championship, every single fight is in a huge arena with a lot of people supporting me or against me, like in Rio de Janeiro, screaming to me that I'm going to die. (Laughs) So I’ve been under a lot of pressure for a long time, and now it's kind of normal for me. I'm just trying to enjoy the moment and I’m very excited. I’m thinking about that night, with all the Mexicans around the arena supporting me and supporting all the Mexican fighters. I'm putting all my heart in this to give an amazing fight for all the people there.”

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UFC Fight Night: Moreno vs Royval 2 took place live from Arena CDMX in Mexico City, Mexico on February 24, 2024. See the Prelims / Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!