UFC champion Brandon Moreno embraces building his legacy – Orange County Register

To say Brandon Moreno’s life has changed in the past five weeks is an understatement.

One day he is in Mexico City to meet Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Another day he is being mobbed by fans outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before a soccer match between Mexico and Nigeria.

“It’s been such a blessing with him. He’s such a great guy. This whole journey,” said Jason House, Moreno’s manager for the past three years. “The result obviously is amazing, but the process has been so much fun getting here. It’s been such a great ride.”

The first Mexican-born UFC champion knows full well all the glory is a good problem to have.

“The most important thing for me to keep my training going and keep always in shape to build a real legacy in my life, not just for me, but for my family and the people around me,” Moreno, 27, said in an exclusive interview Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. “All my life is different right now and I’m excited to see what happens in the future.”

Moreno’s life, three years after being turned upside down, was resurrected on June 12 in his rematch against flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo.

The two had already engaged in a five-round, back-and-forth brawl. The UFC 256 main event, held Dec. 12, 2020, at UFC APEX without fans, was a majority draw and arguably the greatest fight in the 125-pound division.

Figueiredo afterward claimed he was sick and vowed next time to finish Moreno in the first round. That upset Moreno, who says UFC president Dana White told him: “Enjoy Christmas, enjoy your family, see you next year.”

If only it were that easy. “Even when I’m trying to enjoy every single moment with my family and Christmas, some part of my mind still thinking about the next fight,” Moreno said.

Part two was staged exactly six months later, only this time in front of a sold-out Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Moreno came out aggressively in the first round and dominated, even dropping the champ briefly. By the third round, Moreno had Figueiredo’s number, taking him down and sinking in a tap-inducing rear-naked choke.

A confluence of three nearly simultaneous actions soon followed. Octagon announcer Bruce Buffer began to declare the infamous challenger victory cry: “Annnnd newwwww …” Referee Mike Beltran raised Moreno’s right hand. White placed the flyweight championship belt over Moreno’s left shoulder.

An already emotional Moreno hung his head and openly cried before embracing his wife and kissing their young daughter. He then did his best to make it through a three-minute interview with Joe Rogan – part English, part Spanish, part celebration, part astonishment – that resulted in few dry eyes.

“That speech was from the bottom of my heart. I think that’s why the speech connected so much to the people. The people start to feel all my emotions,” Moreno (19-5-2) said.

Not too bad for a guy who says there is no history of athletics in his family. And in his hometown of Tijuana, if you’re fighting, you’re boxing. Yet there wasn’t even a hint of fighting, in a ring or in the streets, in Moreno’s childhood.

When he was 12 and saw a sign outside a gym for “vale todo” – which loosely translates to “anything goes” – Moreno was intrigued. “In that moment, I didn’t know anything about wrestling or kicking or jiu-jitsu, but the sign was nice,” he said. “‘That sport looks good. The name is impressive. Huh, OK.’”

Five years later, Moreno turned pro. Five years after that, he signed with the UFC and rattled off three consecutive wins. Two losses followed right when the UFC had begun to sour on its flyweight division.

The 125-pounders began to get cut and Moreno wasn’t spared.

“2018 was the worst year in my life by far,” he said. “I needed to pay bills. I don’t have money. All the problems start to come to my life, and to be honest, even right now I don’t know how I did that. It was hard.”

House, whose Iridium Sports Agency signed Moreno when he was cut, said the challenge was finding an organization offering fights to 125-pounders before LFA signed Moreno to vie for its flyweight title.

“We kind of sat back for a while and let the road pave itself and we’re lucky LFA gave us the opportunity they did,” House said of Moreno’s fourth-round TKO of Maikel Perez in June 2019 at Morongo Casino in Cabazon. “I felt like that fight was really a pivotal career-changing fight. It doesn’t get much notice or attention right now, but I felt like that fight really propelled us back into the mix.”

To the victor goes the spoils, and Moreno is reaping all of it with his wide smile. The married father of three – along with lightweight champion Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirier, coming off another win over Conor McGregor – is part of a Good Guy Era being enjoyed in the UFC, House says.

Source link

Leave your vote


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *