UFC Vegas 17: Alex Morono Was as Surprised as Everyone Else To Land Anthony Pettis Fight

Welterweight Alex Morono’s showdown with “Showtime” this weekend is the biggest fight of his career. “Bar none, absolutely.”

Speaking at the UFC Vegas 17 media day on Thursday, Morono (18-6, 1NC) told Cageside Press that he was as surprised as everyone else to land a fight with former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

“It was surprising. The the initial consensus of all the comments online was like how random of match was. And I was inclined to agree with them,” Morono admitted. “But again, it’s just a super opportunity.”

Morono actually first caught wind of the fight while teaching his Tuesday evening jiu-jitsu class. While he wouldn’t actually be able to check his phone until after the class was complete, “naturally, being a good instructor,” Morono noticed that his phone was blowing up.

After that class, “our program director walked on the mats. She was like, ‘hey, it’s your coach from Dallas.'” Which had Morono knowing that “I got some really good news coming or some really bad news coming.” It was definitely good news.

With another class ahead, Morono “had like 20 minutes to kind of like, be excited. But then as soon as I realized the fight was booked, I knew who my new enemy was. All the respect in the world, before and after a fight, but during fight camp, it really kind of changed my focus and everything. And again, this is such a big opportunity. There’s a lot of huge gains to make with a victory.”

Morono admits that he had really considered Pettis as a lightweight. And that “The major consensus was that it was kind of a random match-up.” That said, he saw fans come around to the idea that “this is a really fun fight. And I was happy to get that kind of respect. MMA is an extreme sport. Extreme sports bring extreme fans. I honestly thought I was going to get hammered online. But honestly I caught a lot of love and a lot of guys were pulling for me in the fight.” Although they were oddly mean to Pettis, he added.

Morono knows what a win over Anthony Pettis could mean for his career. “I have a very daunting task ahead of me on Saturday. But with the win it just it opens up the floodgates for opportunities and, and it’s a good way to get to that next level,” he observed. He also knows the importance that a finish, or just a very exciting fight, could mean. Which is a good thing, because Morono really does favor an active, violent style.

“I started training because I was a fan. And I’m not a hypocrite by any means,” he stated. “I think the reason I fight like I fight is because I fight like I want to watch guys fight. And if I were to sit there and try to lay n’ pray, it just would not work out for my own personal kind of circuitry.”

With teammate Geoff Neal headlining the UFC Vegas 17 card, and potentially circling a title shot, Morono has goals outside of winning a championship. “With Geoff, he’s certainly something special. And he’s higher up in the rankings. As a friend, it’d be awesome to see that accomplishment. As a team, our ultimate goal is to produce a champion, and he’s closer,” Morono explained. Instead, Alex Morono is focused on bouts like the Pettis fight. “Cool fights against cool fighters,” he said, which “is a more appropriate, successful relative goal, based upon my my skills and my stats.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 17 media day press scrum with Alex Morono above.