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Brandon Moreno embraces backup role for Figueiredo vs. Garbrandt title bout at UFC 255

Brandon Moreno won’t think twice about stepping in on short notice to fight for UFC gold.

The flyweight contender welcomes being a backup opponent for the title fight pitting champion Deiveson Figueiredo against former bantamweight champ Cody Garbrandt in the main event of UFC 255. Moreno (17-5-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) is already scheduled to compete on the Nov. 21 card against Alex Perez.

The Mexican competitor hoped to fight sooner than November but understands why the UFC wants him on that event, given Garbrandt never has competed at 125 pounds.

“I told them if I’m not fighting for the title then give me a fight for October or even September,” Moreno said in Spanish on Monday’s episode of Hablemos MMA. “I don’t know why I need to wait that long, but they insisted it was in November so I could be on the same card and be a replacement, and I have to be conscious of that possibility.

“Obviously, when you’re fighting for a championship belt, you want to be 100 percent focused on a single rival, but those opportunities don’t come around twice in life, so you have to be ready for anything.”

Many considered Moreno next in line for the belt given he’s the highest ranked flyweight after Joseph Benavidez, who lost to Figueiredo for the title in July. He’s also unbeaten in his last four bouts.

Moreno, 26, decided not to wait for the winner of Figueiredo-Garbrandt and hold on to his spot in the rankings, as he thought the division could’ve moved on without him.

“At the end of the day, I felt like I could get demoted from my spot,” Moreno said. “I felt like if I told the UFC, because they immediately offered me the fight against Alex, I felt like if I said no they could make Alex Perez vs. Askar Askarov and the winner, if the performance is convincing, they could get the title shot and I get skipped again. That would leave me in a bad position, so I felt like I wasn’t in the position to pass on it.

“If Figueiredo, who wanted to fight me and challenged me to a fight on social media, he said in previous interviews that he didn’t want to fight against Garbrandt. He wanted the rankings to be respected, and Garbrandt had to prove he could make the weight, and he wanted to respect the official rankings. And even then, the UFC didn’t care, and they made the fight.

“So even Figueiredo, who’s the champ, he’s still not in a position to be making fights, so imagine me. I felt like I could’ve easily been put aside, so I felt like this wasn’t the time to wait. It was the right time to take the risk, because Alex Perez is a tough, tough fight. It’s a fight one can lose, so I’d rather take the risk now that I feel strong mentally and physically, and I’m a much hungrier fighter.”

Moreno didn’t get the title shot but said matchmakers assured him he would get next if victorious against Perez. The Tijuana native did get a new contract, which he’s much happier about, and he’s keeping a positive mindset heading into UFC 255.

“Everything was resolved quickly and according to the matchmaker, if I win this fight, I go for the title, no surprises, nothing,” Moreno said. “If you win the fight against Alex Perez, you’re getting the fight for the title, so I’m taking that.

“I also got a new contract, which I’m much happier with, and all those things, so I’m focusing on those positives, and I’m moving forward. Little by little the Latino fighters and not just fighters, but Latinos in general, we always have to row against the current. We have to work double, and I’m not turning away from that. I’m happy and moving forward.”

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