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“I’m going to go, I want to go fight there, I don’t care about anything,” Brandon Moreno clearly says. In an interview with EFE, the UFC interim flyweight champion assured that he wants to close the tetralogy with champion Deiverson Figueiredo in Rio de Janeiro.
With the same plasticity and self-confidence he moves inside the cage, he dispatches in front of a microphone. The Assassin Baby’ never holds anything back. Before the attentive gaze of a packed stadium or around a coffee shop, he continues to exude that spontaneity and nobility that characterizes him.
His fourth fight with Deiveson Figueiredo, the situation of Latinos within the UFC, and even the possibilities of an upcoming event in Spain… he doesn’t shy away from any question. During a stop at a collaboration between the UFC and LaLiga, he spoke with the EFE agency at his hotel.
Moreno was full of praise for the Spaniards within the company —Ilia Topuria, Joel Alvarez, and Juan Espino— as well as others, trying to break down the door, such as Daniel Bárez. For ‘The Assassin Baby,’ Spain is on the right track: “Exactly what is happening here happened in Mexico.”
The first Mexican UFC champion declares himself a big soccer fan. He visited the facilities of Valencia, Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid but does not get compromised: “Gentlemen, I am a free agent.” With great euphoria, he reveals his passion for Spain; after his first visit to the country, he confesses to be a paella lover, although his great weakness is another: “Torrijas! It was incredible, I had never tasted it, it was the first time, and I said my God…”.
Full Interview Below:
Question. How are you after your last fight? We still see a small mark under your right eye.
Answer. I feel great. It’s my first time here in Spain; I’ve been treated extremely well, I’ve had a chance to work a little bit, we’ve been up and down. As for the fight, I am healthy, it was a very deep cut, and I think that is why you can see the mark in the eye, but it is completely closed and healed. It’s a matter of it fading more and more as time goes by.
Q. How was your stay in Spain? We have seen you these days at Mestalla, at Atletico Madrid’s training and doing different LaLiga collaborations.
A. Yes, that’s right. We landed in Valencia and immediately in the afternoon we went to the stadium, they gave us a tour of the facilities and we got to see part of the match they had against Getafe.
The next day in the morning we took a train and arrived here in Madrid and immediately we went to Atletico’s stadium, we also visited the facilities and had a tour of the stadium’s museum. The truth is that they also treated us very well.
It’s all part of the ‘chamba’ that has been going on between the UFC and LaLiga with the desire to become stronger between them. In the meantime, I enjoy and am happy that they have taken me into account to be part of this partnership.
Q. Will we see more UFC fighters in LaLiga?
A. It is very likely, I would lie to you if I tell you what the exact plans are for the future, but for the moment, yes. There in Valencia Topuria and I were there, now I personally am doing all this with Atletico, in a while we will go to the Real Madrid stadium, to the Santiago Bernabeu, to know the facilities well … then hopefully yes, we will continue to see collaborations like these in the future.
Q. We have seen you wearing the shirt of Valencia, Atletico Madrid and now you are going to the Santiago Bernabeu, but which team is Brandon Moreno’s favorite?
A. Gentlemen, I’m a free agent, I’m not even Spanish to begin with (laughs).
Q. Chicharito played for Real Madrid?
A. Chicharito is from Madrid, he also played for Manchester United… The truth is that I really like soccer, I have a collection of t-shirts in my house. I have not done collaborations, but for example, the team of my city Tijuana, Xolos, has also taken me to the stadium and has helped me in past camps. They have lent me their recovery facilities and physical therapy to prepare for my fights.
I have t-shirts from all the teams I have known, now Valencia, Atletico and Real Madrid are joining the collection. I’m enjoying it and I’m taking advantage of it to make the sport known throughout Spain little by little, which is the ultimate goal. It has taken a lot of strength in the country and I want that strength to grow more and more in the future.
Q. What do you like most about Spain?
A. In Valencia I ate Valencian paella which was delicious… I had chicken and rabbit, it was delicious. Then, the day we went to the Atletico’s facilities, we also ate Spanish food. A dessert…(sighs), which I’ve forgotten the name, but it’s like a bread with milk.
A. Torrijas! It was incredible, I had never tried it before, it was the first time and I said my God… Besides, it feels very light, you can eat it and you don’t feel anything. In general they treated me very well, I’m happy, I hope I can come back later just to see the city.
Q. In the last interview we had you commented that a large part of the audience of your podcast was Spanish: Have you been able to feel the warmth of the people these days?
A. Yes, I was telling you. A large part of my audience, I’m not sure if it is the largest, but a large part is from this country. I also feel it in my social media, the good vibes and all that. I think they identify a lot with me because we speak the same language and they also feel how I transmit the message.
When I speak English I feel that I am getting better and better, but it is not the same as when I speak Spanish. I can express myself more freely and with a larger vocabulary, people understand me. Here, by speaking the same language, regardless of the fact that it is another continent, they feel the message.
Q. Do you think we will be able to see a billboard in Spain soon?
A. I am very confident that we will. Obviously not for being here and throwing flowers at them, but I am very confident that it will happen in the future. Yesterday I was asked about the factors that determine that, to begin with the raw material, that talent comes out. Once talent comes out that UFC identifies it, it happened to us in Mexico, exactly what is happening here happened in Mexico.
Once UFC realized that there was a lot of talent in Mexico, that there were good fighters, they began to inject capital to develop that talent. I was part of that first development program that they took to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
From there came ‘Chito’ Vera, Yair Rodriguez and others who are still in the company. That would be the second part and the third part would be for the public to respond, to support their local athletes. The other day I was told that the audience has grown a lot, every time a Spaniard fights, the numbers go up a lot.
Q. How do you see the situation of Spanish MMA? Both of those who are inside the UFC – Ilia Topuria, Juan Espino and Joel Alvarez – as well as the fighters who are on the doorstep, as is the case of Daniel Bárez.
A: As for Dani, the UFC is just looking for a pretext to sign him. Many times when a fighter is so close to the Contender Series UFC contacts the manager, in this case Dani and I share the same manager, they told him ‘hey, just get him a win fast’ to sign him now. I believe that if Dani wins the belt soon he will be moving up to UFC.
Talking about Ilia, Joel, Juan… I think they have a lot of talent. It would be easy for me to over pick them up because I’m in their country but I’m being very honest with you, the possibilities are great.
Ilia has been making a great career, he is going against Edson Barboza who is an experienced fighter, but I think he is going to win that fight. Joel is coming off a loss but against Arman Tsarukyan, who is a future super title contender, so I think he is on the right track.
Juan I think he’s a little bit inactive, but what he’s been doing inside the company has also been important. At heavyweight you know that you score 2 or 3 good wins and you’re already fighting in important positions. I think the future is promising for all of them.
Q. The other day we saw you vibrating in Paris with the victory of Cristian Quiñonez and it is a fact that the growth of Latinos in the UFC is exponential: Do you think they will end up rubbing shoulders with Brazilians and Americans in terms of talent production?
A. I don’t know how close, I can’t tell you an exact number, but I know that little by little we have been making progress. And what I was saying about what is happening to Spain happened to Mexico, exactly like that, my country started.
They began to partner with television stations, suddenly they began to inject capital, new athletes came out and from there it started to develop. Today Mexico is much more advanced in this whole process.
Little by little new fighters are making their debut. My partner Yazmin Jauregui fought in UFC San Diego a month ago and did very well, Dana White congratulated her, this weekend Cristian (Quiñonez) debuted and he did incredible with a knockout in the first round.
Manuel Torres has also arrived, Genaro Valdes lost in his debut but he is already in, another who is not Mexican but is Latin American is Michael Morales who has done very well. Speaking of the most experienced, Yair, ‘Chito’, me, Alexa Grasso, Irene Aldana who will fight soon at UFC279… I think we are already on the right track to see more and more talent.
Q. Does Rio de Janeiro seem like a good place to fight?
A. I’m going to go, I want to go fight there, I don’t care about anything. A lot of people think it’s not the best idea but I think it feeds my motivation a lot more. Going to fight in his house (Deiveson Figueiredo) is very exciting for me.
I know it will be a difficult challenge, I know the public will not be in my favor but that motivates me much more to unify the belt and become the undisputed champion and close this rivalry with Deiveson that dragged on, at the end of the day we never thought this was going to happen but I also love it. I think it’s going to make my legacy grow a lot more.
Q. Has there been any progress in closing out the fight?
A. What I can tell you is that it’s what UFC wants to do. It’s a very clear plan for the company, they just haven’t put a contract in front of us. I imagine they’re waiting for things to fall into place, see how Charles Oliveria does against Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi or see how the Brazilians develop their careers and then determine the lineup for Rio de Janeiro.
Q. Is that muscle growth you did, which was noticeable against Kai Kara France, going to be decisive in the fourth fight? Figueiredo cuts more weight and has always looked bigger in your fights.
A. The initial plan was for that because according to us we were going for the fourth with Deiveson right away. It didn’t happen for certain reasons, Deiveson had his reasons why he didn’t want to accept the fight so he took the fight with Kai Kara-France, a much smaller opponent than him, and I could tell that I was the bigger one, physically I was bigger than him.
Going back to the initial plan, which was to gain weight so I could connect harder with Deiveson, I expect the difference to be noticeable in this fourth fight.
Q. Looking at it in perspective: Do you think an in-between fight could have been good for you?
A. Maybe yes, to start with, I think it’s because of the mood. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t tired of fighting the same guy four times in a row, which would have been the case.
To have changed the air, to have a new strategy, to have a new opponent in your mind, whether you like it or not, it helps you a lot. I could take advantage of it. In the end I have never stopped thinking about Deiverson because it is the goal, what I want to finish. It’s the chapter I want to close in my life to move forward.
Q. Your prediction for this fourth fight?
A. I’m going to win, there’s nothing else I can tell you. I don’t know how, but I think I’ve shown people that I’m ready for anything. My striking has improved more and more in the last few years, my jiu jitsu I have shown that I can defend myself, I wrestle well… I’ve shown people that I can finish the fight where I want, I’ve shown it with facts, so the only thing I can tell you is that I’m going to win.