Despite being a big fish in a relatively small pond, World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes doesn’t have any trouble getting up for the competition in his division.
While some fighters might daydream of the possibilities that await outside the WSOF decagon, Moraes takes each challenge seriously. That approach has paid dividends, as the 28-year-old has cruised to 12 straight victories -- 10 in WSOF -- and established himself as one of the top 135-pound talents outside the UFC.
He will make his next title defense against Josenaldo Silva at World Series of Fighting 34 on Dec. 31 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. While Silva is relatively unheralded after having fought exclusively on the Brazilian circuit until now, Moraes has been following the career of his countryman for quite some time.
“I think he’s a great fighter. It’s kind of hard for the UFC and other big shows to bring everybody good from Russia and from Brazil, but there’s a lot of good guys out there. I see this guy as one of the top guys in the world. I see this guy beating a lot of good guys and he’s a very tough matchup for me,” Moraes said on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show.
“I try to keep my eyes on the good fighters and fighters that are on TV. This guy I’m fighting, I’m a Brazilian and I’ve seen this guy fighting before and I knew he was a good guy. I knew he was going to make the big show, that was only a matter of time. I watch whatever I can. I try to watch everybody.”
That doesn’t mean Moraes doesn’t contemplate other possibilities, such as a dream showdown with UFC bantamweight king Dominick Cruz. Unless cross promotion becomes a reality, Moraes vs. Cruz will remain a hypothetical. Moraes recently re-signed with WSOF and for good reason: his disclosed $180,000 salary following his win over Josh Hill in July would be hard to match had left for the UFC as a free agent. Regardless, Moraes is confident that he can compete with anyone in the world.
“It’s kind of hard to think because I’m not there [in the UFC] and we’re not on the same show. But I can dream. Every time I dream that I fight those guys, it’s a tough fight,” he said. “It’s not gonna be easy. They’re not gonna beat me up easy and I’m not gonna beat them up easy. I think it’s an even matchup. Whoever is the best that day and whoever trains harder is gonna win.”