Brandon Moreno has drawn some additional inspiration from one of the greatest to ever compete in North American sports ahead of his first defense of the UFC flyweight title.
Moreno faces Deiveson Figueiredo for a third time in the co-main event of UFC 270 on Saturday, this time with “The Assassin Baby” as the flyweight titleholder. The event takes place at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Over the last several months, Moreno posted several photos of himself wearing a Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey on social media.
Ahead of the UFC’s first pay-per-view event of 2022, the No. 1 ranked fighter in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings explained how Jordan landed on his radar, and why Jordan’s work ethic — and history of championship wins — gave him extra motivation.
“I need to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of basketball,” Moreno told MMA Fighting. “[The sport is] very fun. I like to watch it, I don’t have a team, but I started to learn the history of Michael Jordan from The Last Dance.
“Then I started to investigate a little more about Michael Jordan and my manager Jason [House] told me about the book Winning from Tim Grover, the personal trainer of Michael Jordan. I read the book, the ideas about how hard he worked, how he was in his regular life, the obsession to win everything. That, to me, was something different — and it was very inspirational to me.”
Moreno submitted Figueiredo in the third round at UFC 263 to become the flyweight champion after fighting to a draw in their first meeting at UFC 256.
While there were rumblings of other names who could challenge Moreno for the title, the promotion went with Figueiredo, which was just fine with Moreno. When the dust settles in Anaheim, Moreno hopes he’ll be able to put the series behind him for good.
“Figueiredo liked to talk like, ‘This guy is scared of me, he don’t want to give me the trilogy.’ But man, I was just waiting for the name, literally,” Moreno said. “The first name the UFC gave me was Figueiredo and I said ‘yes’ in that moment, because I just wanted to fight.
“At first I was a little surprised. But at the end of the day, the first fight was incredible, second fight was total domination, but maybe the trilogy can be nice to finish the job and put Deiveson Figueiredo in the 135-pound division.”
Figueiredo, in hopes of regaining his title, has switched his camp to Fight Ready in Arizona. Prior to his two fights with Moreno, “Deus da Guerra” terrorized the flyweight division with stoppages of Tim Elliott, Joseph Benadvidez twice — the second of which earned Figueiredo the flyweight title — and Alex Perez in his first title defense.
Moreno, however, has focused on himself during a long, difficult fight camp. While he has respect for his opponent, Moreno is excited to get his hands on Figueiredo once again.
“You know what’s the most sad part? I don’t have any rivalries with anybody,” Moreno explained. “He’s trying to do some [stuff], man, it’s so funny to me. At this point, I’m just thinking about the fight. I need to be very sharp — as sharp as the last fight — and I just need to put pressure on him like before.
“Obviously, he’s trying to do something for this one because he needs to do it, but this training camp was so hard and I feel so ready. I could fight him right now. I just need to make the weight, but I’m ready.”