Two years ago in Rio, despite over twenty fights under his belt, Marlon Moraes looked nervous and tentative against UFC mainstay Rafael Assuncao. Even though he fought well that night, it was unsurprising when Moraes lost the decision.
Yet what happened last night in Fortaleza, Brazil was nothing but surprising. This night saw Moraes shake off a slow start to submit Assuncao in the very first round, a finish that very few if any experts predicted. But in arm in guillotine from the top position showed off the squeeze of Moraes and Assuncao had no choice but to tap out.
The UFC main event closed an exciting night of fighting and a banner night for Brazilian legends, as shown when former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo knocked out the surging Renato Moicano and former two-time title challenger Damien Maia got back in the win column with first round submission victory over Puerto Rican prospect Lyman Good.
Assuncao came out to start the fight and immediately started putting pressure on Moraes. It looked like we going to get a war of nerves, as both men probed with punches and kicks. Assuncao landed a nice spinning kick to the ribs and a front kick to the ankle, while Moraes tried to find his range with his left jab and low calf kick. But then two minutes into the round, Moraes stepped in with two overhand rights over the low left hand of Assuncao, dropping him to the canvas. Moraes followed up with some ground and pound and ended up in the guard of Assuncao.
Moraes was able to pass to half guard and found the room to land some shots but Assuncao did enough to limit the extent of the damage. But as Assuncao tried to make room to get to his feet, he left his neck out there and Moraes seized on it with an arm in guillotine and quickly swept into the mount. Moraes wiggled his way into perfect position and Assuncao tapped out at 3;17 of Round One.
It was an emphatic victory for Moraes, who admitted that he had been suffering from diarrhea the entire week. Not only was it the fourth win in a row for Moraes, it was his first submission victory in nearly four years. For Assuncao, it snapped his own four fight winning streak and was his first submission lost since he was choked out by Uriah Faber in the WEC in 2010.
Afterwards, Moraes was emphatic in his callout of UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, saying that “he might have to take a fight with someone else while Dillashaw went down and chased the little boys”, referring to Dillashaw’s continued desire to win the flyweight championship. With this victory, there can be no doubt that Moraes is the new number one contender and he should be the Next In Line.
In the UFC, things are seldom that simple. But in this case, they damn well should be.