Ahead of this year’s PFL season, Marlon Moraes is sounding positive.
Despite some recent setbacks, the former WSOF champion and UFC title challenger is upbeat about his first PFL regular season— and plans to put everything he has into his 2023 campaign.
That’s a far cry from the fighter who had announced his retirement early last year. As to what changed his mind, Moraes (23-11-1) gave Cageside Press some insight into that in a recent exclusive interview.
“Man, I was living a little rough time with the UFC. I wanted a fresh start, I wanted to get something new and the PFL just came in at the right time,” Moraes recalled. “Everything worked out perfect, and made me want to compete again, and made me [come] back to MMA. That’s most important, you have to be happy where you are, and I’m happy. And I can’t wait to keep competing. This is going to be my first season, and I’m very excited.”
Moraes was a dominant bantamweight champion in the World Series of Fighting, essentially the precurssor to the PFL. That appears to have factored in. “I had great times with them,” Moraes noted. Then came his UFC run, which had its highs, and lows. “I had a couple losses in a row, and I was living a rough time with the UFC and the opportunity came at the right time. I can’t wait to be back in the smart cage and show to all these people my work.”
The losses weren’t necessarily the only factor in what Moraes calls his “rough time” with the UFC, but they certainly exacerbated the situation.
“I just needed a little push. I just needed them to recognize me as a good fighter, and [give me] different treatment. But it is what it is, that’s what they want, that’s how they do business,” Moraes explained. “I was grateful for the opportunities, but at the end of the day, they want what’s good for them. At some point, I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to, I lost the fights, and that’s their decision, to keep giving me the toughest fights in the division. That’s what we do, when you’re in the UFC in the top 10.”
Other fighters, Moraes noted, “don’t get the same treatment. And I asked for so many fights, and so many fighters declined to fight me. But it is what it is, life goes, that’s all in the past, and I’m looking forward to my next challenge.”
The next challenge will come at featherweight, where Moraes made his PFL debut late last year. The fight didn’t go his way, but he remains confident in fighting at 145 — noting that even if the PFL offered a bantamweight division, he’d wasn’t sure if he’d join it.
“I dunno man. I feel great at 145— I said I dunno if I would go to 35. Because now I’m happy at 45. The training, I have so much more energy. But we never know. Maybe if they had the 35 [lb weight class], I could give it a try. But I’m happy, and I’m training hard with the guys in the 45lb division, and I feel great.”
Right out of the gate this season, “Magic” Marlon Moraes has been paired up with last year’s champion, Brendan Loughnane. It’s a fight the Brazilian most certainly sounds game for.
“Brendan’s a good fighter, complete fighter. Hard challenge. But this is why I’m here, why I’m competing, because I think I can beat anyone, and I have the tools,” Moraes stated. “He’s a guy that I look up to, the way he fights. I watch a lot of his fights, and I’m excited for this match-up, this challenge. This is going to be the best fight of the night, 100%.”
Earlier this year, it was announced that one of Moares’ former opponents, Jose Aldo, is set to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. While their fight came at bantamweight (with Moraes winning on the scorecards), “Magic” still feels Aldo is the greatest featherweight of all time — though he was sure to give Alexander Volkanovski his due.
“Right now, yes. I think he’s still the best featherweight of all time. I’m a guy that, I started fighting and I looked up to him,” explained Moraes. “Probably I was 15 or 16 and I went to one of his fights near my town, and I saw him fight in Mecca, Meca Vale Tudo. And I was amazed by his performance, by his striking.” Moraes saw Aldo grow, from the regional scene to the WEC and UFC, winning titles in both promotions. “In my opinion right now he’s still the best featherweight of all time. I look up to Volkanovski as well. When you mention the best of all time, we have to remember how good Volaknovski is and what he’s doing right now.”
Aldo is now pursuing a boxing career, something Moraes believes might be about the MMA legend challenging himself. And, he noted, sometimes it’s hard for a fighter to know when to walk away. Which brings up questions of his own career. Is this the last run of Marlon Moraes, or if all goes well this season, could we see him back in the PFL in 2024? Even Marlon Moraes himself isn’t sure of that answer.
“I don’t know man. I’m looking up to this season as the season I’m going to give everything I have. At the end of the year, we might see with my family. I don’t know if I have so many years left,” he admitted. “I’ve been giving everything I have to the sport, and I’m going to give everything I have in 2023, and at the end of the year, we’ll see what we’re going to do.”
Watch our full interview with PFL 1 featherweight Marlon Moraes above. Moraes faces Brendan Loughnane on April 1, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV.