Finally, after a year and a half of chipping away at the best flyweights on the roster Brandon “the Assassin Baby” Moreno is starting to gain the notice and respect from the fans which he has deserved for a long time. For some fighters, it takes a couple of dominant wins or a flashy personality, Moreno has had to gain the fan appreciation through the most difficult way possible. Moreno on Saturday night shocked many in how he stood up to the power of Deiveson Figueiredo thus displaying a chin and warrior mentality that demands the respect of every fight fan across the world. Luckily those late to the Brandon Moreno hype train have a number of fights to go back and watch that further demonstrate the skills of Brandon Moreno and I will highlight some and how they are important in his career. First, I would just like to give my own personal view on Moreno and how I have experienced his growth as a fighter.
In general, I have always loved what many saw on Saturday about Moreno, his Mexican warrior spirit. Moreno is a complete mixed martial artist and is incredibly skilled everywhere the fight goes and has used this to beat opponents who may on paper have a particular skill set above Moreno. Against Royval three weeks ago many pointed to the fact that Brandon Royval is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu compared to the purple belt of Moreno, so on paper he has the better ground game. Watching the fight however Moreno dominated the grappling and showed that the belt ranking is not the be all and end all of grappling. The same can be said for the Figgy fight only this time most believed he was outmatched everywhere but look what happened, Moreno went toe to toe with Figgy in every aspect of the fight. In my articles, I have picked Moreno in both his recent fights. I was very nervous about the Figgy fight but Moreno is a fighter I have always believed to have a higher ceiling than many expected for him because being a massive fan of his I have seen how far he has developed his game and how he became the fighter he is now.
Moreno never had the easy route in the UFC. In the ultimate fighter, he was the bottom ranked seed and matched up against the number 1 in Alexandre Pantoja. Moreno lost this fight but showed incredible heart in a losing effort but his skill set was very rough around the edges. Moreno did impress many when he quickly choked out Louis Smolka in his short notice UFC debut. The road from there was rough with some wins and some loses and it seemed unlikely Moreno would be a title contender. It all came at the time when the UFC was likely going to cut the Flyweight division and Moreno would be let go from the roster as a result. It has been documented at this time that Moreno’s second daughter was born with health issues and was in need of surgery so the cut could not have occurred at a worse time. However, something amazing occurred. Moreno went straight to the LFA and in his first fight against Maikel Perez won the LFA world title with a dominant performance resulting in Moreno’s return to the UFC roster. It is in his returning UFC run you need to go back to witness the true extent of how good Moreno is in an impressive series of fights.
Moreno was not given any favors upon his return as he was matched with up and coming contender Askar Askarov. Askarov is a very dominant wrestler with a suffocating style but Moreno managed to grapple with him successfully and was clearly landing the hard shots on the feet with a massively improved striking game. The fight officially is a draw but in mine and many others eyes it was a clear win for Moreno who dropped Askarov in the second and dominated all of the third round. The next fight was Kai Kara France who on paper was the better striker but again Moreno demonstrated his willingness to fight to his opponent’s strengths as he beat Kara France in the stand up in what was a highly entertaining scrap from start to finish. The next test was the always dangerous Jussier Formiga, in what was a well-rounded performance for Moreno as he out grappled and out struck Formiga in a dominant decision win. These wins and draws (should be a clear win) were impressive not only because it was high level competition but because Moreno was the underdog in all three fights. This run should have impressed more fans but unfortunately, he was buried on fight night undercards or prelims so never got the deserved notice.
Thankfully Moreno, due to his fight this weekend, has already noticeably developed a stronger following and as a long-time fan I have been so happy all week to see Moreno finally get his due. Even on the embedded series, commenters have taken strongly to Moreno’s cheerful personality. It’s clear that Moreno is one of the sport’s nice guys. On top of all of this he is a prime example of a true fighter and at 26 years old he still can make even more improvements to a game that is already complete. Moreno has the kind of will and grit that you either have or don’t have. He has had many setbacks but stayed positive and improved himself so much in a short amount of time. Moreno has the kind of story and fighting style that deserves endless praise and now we have the title fight rematch to look forward too. While he will likely be the underdog in the second fight, people are not going to overlook Moreno this time and it’s very possible we see a better version of him next time out. For those who have not watched his previous fights consider it homework but look forward to some entertaining scraps and see what you may have been missing for the past year.