Marlon Moraes likes to pride himself on the old school mantra that he’ll fight anybody the UFC puts in front of him.
According to Moraes, that included a proposed showdown with Jimmie Rivera when he first arrived in the UFC. Unfortunately, the fight never came together and Moraes is confident he knows why.
“Jimmie Rivera is one of the top fighters in the UFC and when we signed with the UFC, that was one of the guys that we wanted to fight. That was the first name that was given to us and I was supposed to fight I think it was the UFC in Buffalo, but he didn’t want that fight. That was the first time,” Moraes revealed when speaking to MMAWeekly.com.
“I like to fight. Some guys don’t like to fight. Some guys want to be a champion but they don’t want to take the toughest roads. I never pick opponents. When we signed, I said I want to fight with the best.”
While Rivera has gone 5-0 since joining the UFC roster, Moraes doesn’t believe he’s truly pushed himself to face the best competition but rather he’s been particular abou the opponents he’s faced inside the Octagon.
“He fought guys he knew he could beat. He wasn’t challenging himself,” Moraes said. “I’m not saying he fought bad fighters. He fought good fighters, but you have to fight everybody. You can’t pick this guy now, I don’t want to fight this guy. When the cage locks, it’s just you and your opponent and that’s it.
“I respect him, he’s a good fighter but I’m just aiming to go out there on June 1 and beat him. That’s it.”
With the bantamweight contenders facing off in the main event on Friday, there’s little doubt that the winner will be in a very advantageous position when it comes to the title hunt at 135 pounds.
In August, champion T.J. Dillashaw will face off with Cody Garbrandt in the main event at UFC 227. Presumably the winner between Moraes and Rivera would have to be near the top of the list to then fight for the title.
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That’s just another reason why Moraes wants to go out and put a stamp on this performance by soundly defeating Rivera and proving he belongs in the upper echelon of the UFC’s bantamweight division.
“I’m training to finish this guy. I want to finish this guy. I want to win. I want to make a statement,” Moraes said. “I want to show everybody what I can do. But I’m ready for war. This is what I’m doing everyday. I’m putting myself in a war in training. June 1 is just going to be one more chapter of my history and I’m 100-percent sure I’m going to do well and I’m going to come back victorious.
“I’m going out there to put on a great performance. I want to go out there and I want to prove to everybody that I’m ready to fight for the UFC title.”