Before World Series of Fighting welterweight champion Steve Carl defends his title against Rousimar Palhares at WSOF 9 in Las Vegas this Saturday, another title will also be up for grabs in the co-main event as Marlon Moraes takes on Josh Rettinghouse for the inaugural bantamweight strap. Moraes is arguably the most marketable athlete on the WSOF roster right now, and with his dominant crowd-pleasing performances coupled with his undeniable desire to win, the Brazilian will be looking to continue his campaign for greatness on March 29th against Rettinghouse.
ProMMANow was granted an interview with Marlon before he steps into combat for a chance at gold and supremacy.
Questions from ProMMA’s Kinch in bold.
Answers from Marlon are italicized.
First of Marlon, thank you for taking the time to speak with ProMMANow. How has training been leading up to your scrap for the inaugural bantamweight belt?
“So far so good man, my training camp has been great and I’m feeling great with no injuries. My technique and cardio are evolving everyday more and more, I’m doing what I like to do and I cant wait to fight. Like you said, I’m fighting for the first bantamweight title in World Series of Fighting and it’s been such a pleasure. My first fight with WSOF was in November of 2012, and now at WSOF 9, I have an opportunity to get the belt and have my name in the history of the show. I want to look back twenty years from now and see my name there and know I was the champ, that’s why I’m training hard.”
Was there any doubt in your mind that you would be fighting for the title in WSOF when they decided to crown a champion at bantamweight?
“Man, after my first fight they asked, ‘Are you fighting for the title?’ And the next fight they kept saying it and now it’s finally happening. I respect the organization so much, they take care of us and I’m getting my chance now, so I just want to thank them.”
Your opponent Josh Rettinghouse is a tough guy with a pretty good record, what can you tell me about him?
“Josh is a young guy, he’s tough, he’s good on the ground and good on his feet, he’s a good fighter. He’s got a good record, he’s fought against tough guys and he’s gonna bring the show. He’s going to go out there to fight and I’m the same way, I’m always prepared for the best guy in the world. Today in MMA, you can expect anything from anybody, Josh is a tough guy and he’s got a lot of weapons.”
Where do think Josh is most dangerous?
“I really think he’s good everywhere, I just want a chance you know? If he gives me the chance on the ground or on the feet, I’ll take it.”
You’re coming off the huge KO win over Carson Beebe at WSOF 6 back in October. How happy were you with that victory and is it at all bittersweet to have a fight end so quickly after you endure weeks of grueling training?
“I feel great about that win. I was working hard for two months for that fight and I didn’t expect it to only last 32 seconds, since Carson is tough guy. But I was ready to take any opportunity he gave to me and he gave me one early. Everyone was saying ‘Marlon needs to fight a good wrestler’ and he was a state champion. It was good just to prove that I can fight anybody.”
You haven’t suffered a loss since 2011, I’m wondering what kind of changes you’ve made in your career that have led to this impressive win-streak?
“I think it was all in my mind, I needed to focus my mind on my goals and start to work hard, I was working hard before but I wasn’t working the right way. I set the goal in my mind and we moved my camp here to train with Frankie Edgar and Ricardo Almeida, it was such a great move for me and Edson Barboza. We’re learning everyday and getting better everyday, sparring with world champion boxers for ten rounds, all these things are good for my game.”
You exploded onto the MMA scene with your WSOF debut against Miguel Torres, a fight where I had no idea who you were, but after the first minute of that fight you opened a lot of peoples eyes and a star was born. That being said, you’re one of the guys that Ray has been building this promotion around, what has that been like for you?
“I’m really happy, I’ve been in this sport a long time, since I was nine years old, and now I feel like my dreams are coming true. They gave me the opportunity to fight Miguel Torres, who was top ten in the world, and when they asked if I wanted the fight, I said of course. I’ve been training hard my whole life and I wanted to prove to the world what I could do. I still have things I want to prove that I want prove also, where I want to be and who I can be.”
Since you are one of stars in this promotion, how much more important is it for you to capture the title and reaffirm yourself as one of the most popular athletes at WSOF?
“It’s very important for me, WSOF has some of the best guys in the world and I want to get this belt and have people look at me like, ‘This guy might be the best in the world.’ I don’t just want to be the guy with the belt in WSOF, I’m going out there to prove that I am the best bantamweight in the world.”
You’re currently ranked as the #10 bantamweight in the world and while a win over Josh may not push you up that ladder significantly, having the belt couldn’t hurt. What do you think it will take to propel you up to say, the top 3?
“I need to fight the best, I need to fight the guys that are on top. At some point we’re going to see what happens after I get the belt, I want to prove the WSOF is strong and I know Ray and Ali want to see me on top. I’m just training, working hard and keeping my mind on my goals.”
Tell about working for World Series of Fighting, all the guys I talk to love the company and how it’s run, I’m guessing the same goes for you?
“Ali gave me the opportunity to fight when I was training here with Frankie. He saw me and told me he thought I could really good, then he told me they were looking for opponents for Miguel. I respect Ali a lot and I think he’s one of the most important people in my career. Ray Sefo man, I’m a big fan, I used to play with him on the PlayStation when I was like 10 years old. He’s a champion man, he knows exactly what we need. One time at the weigh-ins, they were running like 10 minutes late and he came to apologize to me because he knows what we go through, this is important. Having people behind the scenes that were fighting at one point, they have a fighters heart. I think not just me, but all the fighters are very happy about that. I’m so thankful for them.”
Back to the fight on Saturday. How do you visualize the fight transpiring and how do you get your hand raised?
“My first visualization of the fight is this; my hand is raised at the end of the night, it doesn’t matter what happens, I’m ready for war. I can see this fight everywhere, but every time I play it out in my mind, I see myself doing well. I see myself working and winning man, going hard, not stopping and this is what I want. I’m not looking for easy fights, I want the toughest fights but like I said in the beginning, my hand is getting raised.”
Every fight we have seen of yours has been entertaining thus far, so in conclusion, why should all the fans tune in on March 29th?
“You guys cant miss this card, there are going to be some great fights and all I can say about my fight is don’t blink. March 29th is going to be a great show and I’m ready to give you guys what you like to see. I want to thank you guys at ProMMANow for speaking with me and I can’t wait for Saturday.”
Follow Marlon on Twitter: @MMAMarlonMoraes
Be sure to catch all the action this Saturday at WSOF 9 with the prelims streaming on WSOF.com and the main card airing on NBC Sports at 9pm ET/ 6pm PT, check your local listings.