Vince Morales Reflects on UFC Ottawa Victory: “I Can Officially Call Myself a UFC Fighter Now”

Vince Morales UFC Ottawa
Vince Morales UFC Ottawa Weigh-In Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

UFC bantamweight Vince Morales feels he is on an elite level after his UFC Ottawa victory.

Vince Morales went into UFC Ottawa at 0-1 in the promotion, facing a tough opponent in Aiemann Zahabi. He impressed in the fight, and proved he’s here to stay, as he told Cageside Press.

“I really feel the work I’ve put in. I feel I’m on an elite level right now. I have much more to show in the future.”

The victory was a unanimous decision fashion, and although he has fought with the promotion before (in a losing effort) it is now that he feels he has the right to finally call himself a UFC fighter.

“I needed the win, I lost in my debut, so I wasn’t a UFC fighter until I won. I didn’t have the right to call myself that until I won and now I can and man it feels special. The win just felt like a lot of hard work was finally paying off and I’m excited.”

Although Vince Morales is extremely happy to have his first of what he hopes will be many UFC wins under his belt, Morales knows he could have performed better even in his victorious fashion. Morales has always been the type of fighter looking for excitement in the cage, but he has an explanation as to why this one went to a decision.

“I think I hurt him early, which in a way changed the approach. He was more aware of what was coming and avoided engaging as often as we should have. I look back on it I did a lot of things right in this one, but also a lot I can change to be better. I’m glad I got the win but I prefer excitement so I’m ready to get back in there soon.”

Morales before his UFC debut spoke on how much nerves play a part in the lead up to a fight for him. He considers it part of the sport, and part of who he is. Nerves and sports are in many ways tied together. We asked Morales if the nerves were still a factor in this fight or if they had passed.

“I don’t think they will ever go away. It’s not the action that gets me nervous, it’s everything before, the training camp and weight cut, the putting in all this work and making it worth it. Your mind can wonder and worry, it is a part of the sport. I’ve dealt with it since freshman year of high school.”

Morales fought Aiemann Zahabi, 31-year-old Canadian bantamweight, on his home turf. Zahabi had won nine straight including his UFC debut before taking his first professional loss at UFC 217. The oddsmakers saw this as a chance for Zahabi to get back in the win column, but Morales, the betting underdog had other plans in mind.

“I’ve been an underdog my whole life, it fuels me for sure. I embrace it because I know how good I am and I’ll prove that to everyone. Everyone loves an underdog.”

We asked Morales, although only at the beginning of his UFC journey, what he thinks about the top of the bantamweight division. It is one of the more stacked divisions in the UFC right now, and currently has a vacant title (which will be resolved this week). This makes it interesting to hear from someone on the rise about what he thinks of his division.

“I was disappointed to hear about [TJ] Dillashaw, he is a beast and I would dream of a fight with him one day. [Henry] Cejudo is a monster and absolutely deserves the shot, I think [Marlon] Moraes wins that one. Some absolute killers in the top-15, even the guys not ranked are top-tier.”

Morales admits that looking at the top 15 sometimes isn’t a pleasant thought, but a task he is ready for and willing to undertake.

“I mean, I hate looking at it. They’re some absolute sharks I have to get through, but is what it is I’m ready to get my name up with those guys.”

Morales is ready to get right back in the cage and continue his journey to face some of those sharks he discussed. An active fighter is someone Dana White is always willing to give a big fight.

“I walk around at this weight really. I’ll fight anyone, doesn’t matter. I’m already back training now, I feel great. I’d love to fight someone above me, anyone who can continue moving me up. I’m a big momentum guy so I wanna run with this.”

Vince Morales is riding high on his big victory, but he knows this was only a small piece in the bigger picture. A number next to his name and eventual title fight is the end goal and it may seem far now, but activity can rush the process.