Training with Frankie Edgar, who has his own title fight pending, UFC 238 main eventer Marlon Moraes feels it’s iron sharpening iron as the pair prepare for their respective shots at gold.
Chicago, IL — Marlon Moraes is in the biggest fight of his career this Saturday at UFC 238. While the biggest, or toughest, fight is always the one that’s next, for Moraes, it really is. The former World Series of Fighting champion is getting his first shot at UFC gold.
That makes it the biggest fight of his career. As for the toughest, well, he’s facing flyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo.
Biggest. Toughest. Check. Check.
Moraes spoke to reporters including Cageside Press on Wednesday, saying how thrilled he was to get the opportunity he’s looking at Saturday. “I feel happy, man. It’s what I work for. I worked to be here. I belong here.”
“It wasn’t an easy road, you know,” he added. The key to finally getting the title shot, “I never say no. That’s it. That’s what I got.”
Moraes is a Brazilian fighting out of New Jersey, and the crowd certainly seemed supportive at the open workouts. As he pointed out, however, “it’s easy to get the support from the crowd when you’re fighting Henry Cejudo. And that’s it.” So is it just that nobody likes Cejudo? “Looks like,” answered Moraes.
Cejudo, to be honest, has at times been described as cringe-worthy. Moraes, however, is not overlooking his opponent’s skill in the octagon. “He’s a great wrestler. He’s been improving every fight. He showed his last couple, his striking is getting way better.” Which excites Marlon Moraes. “I’m excited to put on a show and prove I’m the best.” After all, he later added, “I worked for this. I worked to fight for the belt. The opportunity came, but it wasn’t easy. They didn’t give me anything. I earned it.”
Asked if the fight had become personal — there had been at least a bit of jawing between the two in the past — Moraes said it wasn’t. “Nah, he’s not under my skin,” said the Brazilian. “I’ve been doing this for a long time, for this moment. He’s not under my skin. He’s wrong if he’s thinking like that.”
What you can look forward to come Saturday is Marlon Moraes being “as cold as I’ve always been.” Aside from that, “I’m going to be better than I’ve ever been, and Saturday night, I’m going to be the new champion.”
While he’s aware of Cejudo’s Olympic caliber wrestling (who isn’t, really), Moraes pointed out that “I’ve been working on wrestling for a long time. It’s an MMA fight. Wrestling’s there, but you can’t worry about only wrestling. He can hit, and I’m ready for anything.”
Preparing for the fight with Cejudo, Moraes has been working with former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. ‘The Answer’ has a title fight of his own coming up at UFC 240 in Edmonton this July. So it’s a key time in the careers of both men.
“It means a lot to me to have Frankie here,” Moraes said about Edgar coming out to support him. “He’s one of my mentors. He’s the guy I look up [to]. He’s there every day in the gym, he’s one of my main sparring partners, especially for this fight.”
Which is making Moraes a better fighter, he believes. “In the room, I got so many rounds in. I hurt him before, he hurt me before, we had a lot of injuries training together, but here we are. Iron sharpens iron. That’s what I am, and that’s what he is.”
Of course, the pair are at very different points in their careers. Edgar could be looking at his final shot at gold in the UFC. Moraes has earned his first. But you couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Frankie Edgar.