There are many reasons to want to become a professional athlete. Some do it for wealth, others for fame and glory, and many for all three.
MMA fighter Marlon Moraes wasn’t interested in any of that. He may be fighting on national television tonight for the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) bantamweight title but MMA is still all about love for the Brazilian, just as it was when he began his pro career at 18.
“I wasn’t looking for it, doing MMA as a profession. I’ve never been looking for it,” he tells Cagewriter.
“Some guys just want to get in the sport to make money but the most important thing in life is to do what you love because one day it’s going to be hard and when it is, you’d better love it or it won’t all be worth it.”
Moraes may still be young but he’s gone through some of those hard times already. After transitioning from kickboxing to MMA at the prodding of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brown belt friend of his, Marlon started out fast with three straight wins.
Then, he hit a skid in his next four bouts, winning only once. It was enough to make him question whether or not he belonged in the sport.
“Yeah, man. I did,” he admits.
“I had a couple fights where I didn’t perform well. This did come to my mind. I didn’t know if that’s what I had to do. But, I had good friends around me who told me, ‘You are good. You can do this. If you cannot do this I don’t know who can.’ I just thought that I got to keep training so that I could go out there put everything together during fights the way I do in practice.”
Interestingly, Moraes realized that he had hit a turning point after yet another loss.
“When I fought Deividas [Taurosevicius],” he remembers as the moment he realized he’d made the right decision in sticking with MMA.
“He is a good fighter in the 145 division. It was a good fight against him and I lost but I was beating him. He couldn’t stand with me. On the ground, I had his back. I made a mistake and he beat me. After that, I decided to go to 135 pounds and see what I can do. It was a good move. I’m feeling good, feeling healthy at the weight, winning fights and performing during fights like I do in training.”
Now, the young kid who once questioned his place in MMA, has a certain goal. “I want to be the best 135 pounder in the world,” he says, flatly.
Tonight, Moraes gets a chance to take another step towards meeting that goal against Josh Rettinghouse with a title belt at stake.
“He’s a good fighter, a complete fighter,” Moraes says of Rettinghouse.
“He can fight anywhere. He showed in his last fight that he can go on the ground, on the feet, that he can punch and kick, take people down. He can finish.”
With that said, Moraes has all the confidence in the world in himself these days, and he relishes a challenge like Rettinghouse. "I’m here in this game to fight best in the world,” the proud Ricardo Almeida BJJ team member insists.
“Champions don’t pick their opponents. Whoever they put in front of me, I’ll go one hundred percent. He’s a great fighter but I’ve worked so hard to get here and I’m going to do what I have to do.”