The Mexican flyweight Brandon Moreno on winning once again in the UFC and the passions that drive him forward.
Words: Tony Reid
This article originally featured in Fighters Only April 2020 – Issue 141
When the UFC nearly eliminated the flyweight division you were one of the fighters cut from the roster. You said that it was a very dark period for you. Can you tell us how dark it got and how you managed to work through it?
They were some really hard moments, financially and emotionally, and I didn’t know how long they’d last. I wondered many times if I should even continue in this sport, but I always came to the conclusion that I should continue fighting for my dreams and my family. My family is my biggest motivator; they pull me out of bad times.
During your first run with the organization you were a top prospect. You said that the cut humbled you. Now you’re back on the winning track. How great does it feel to pick up that first UFC win since 2017?
Proving that I’m capable of still having my hand raised in the UFC and still putting on an exciting fight, was an incredible feeling that I’ll never forget. Now that I’m back, I have to continue to demonstrate what I’m capable of, and I feel I’m ready for that.
That win came in a decision against Kai Kara-France at UFC 245. You put on a striking clinic that just got more and more impressive as the fight progressed. Did your confidence build as the fight progressed as well? Did you feel the momentum in the fight?
I used to be a very defensive fighter who was always looking for submissions, looking to avoid taking too much damage. Now, I think I can take the fight to the ground when it suits me and I have a different mentality – a mentality that will hardly be broken. All that time when I was out of competition for a year, I used it to improve technically and mentally and, little by little, I’m showing the results.
You said you wanted to taste his power. Did you get a taste during the fight and what did you think?
Absolutely! In the first round I received a blow to the ear from a right hand. It made me shake my head a little bit (laughs), but I knew that I had survived his strongest blow and that was a point that I had to prove.
Now you got that all-important win, do you have your sights set on your next opponent? What are your thoughts of the current champion in the division, Henry Cejudo?
After this victory, I know that the big fish will come. Possibly a fight against Formiga would be the best for me right now. Henry Cejudo is a fighter who I’ve had the opportunity to meet personally and I promise he’s not the clown he is now. He’s an excellent person, but he’s someone who got lost on the road. Hopefully he’ll return to action soon to get the division moving more again.
You fought in over 20 professional fights to this point in your career. What do you feel has been the fight of your life?
That’s a very deep question! All of them have arrived at specific moments of my life that have marked my way in this sport in an incredible way. But I think that the fight I had on TUF against Alexandre Pantoja was a real turning point for me in my career. Things began to change very quickly after that.
Whether it be personally or professionally, who are your inspirations to fight and to keep growing and keep striving to be one of the best in the world?
Personally, my family has been what has inspired me in a very big way, to work very hard for all my dreams. My parents were born in Puebla, but they worked very hard to get me and my brothers forward in life. Professionally, my TUF coach Joseph Benavidez is someone I admire in this sport; not only because of how he fights but also because of how he lives this sport.
As a fan of the sport, who are your favorite fighters to watch?
Max Holloway, Justin Gaethje, Israel Adesanya, Frankie Edgar, Yair Rodriguez, Tony Ferguson, Jorge Masvidal, Kelvin Gastelum and more.
You have a young family. How important is it to set a good example for them as far as pursuing your dreams and reaching your goals?
I think that when they see me living my dreams to the fullest, I’m teaching them something very big and important. I always try to be the best possible father. I know that sometimes I fail, of course. I cannot be with them as much as I’d like because of my career, unfortunately, but I always try to be there in every important moment of their lives.
As I was looking at pictures on your social media, it seems like you’re a big Funko Pop collector. How did you get into collecting and what are your favorite Pops?
Since childhood I’ve always liked to collect toys. Now that I’m an adult, at least according to my ID, (laughs) I found a very great passion for collecting LEGO and Funko Pop. In both I think that the Marvel series are the ones I like the most. I haven’t been collecting long, but I’ve already got around 50 Funko Pops.
What is the one thing you would want the MMA world to know about you that they might not know?
I just want to show that, although I’m a flyweight, my heart and my desire to win is bigger than a heavyweight.
We are nearing the end of 2019. If we were talking at the end of 2020 what would we be saying about your career and the coming year?
Professionally, 2018 was terrible. 2019 was really good. But I promise 2020 will be crazy and amazing!