Brandon Moreno’s incredible redemption arc is the best sports story of the year.
By: Kriel Ibarrola
Some elite fighters were seemingly born to be champions right from the start. Then there are some scrappy individuals like Brandon Moreno, who had to get to hell and a back just to reach the top of the mountain.
Who? Exactly. The 27-year-old Mexican fighter isn’t really a household name. Well, until now.
Dreams do come true. We all saw it happen in the co-main event of UFC 263. While it was Israel Adesanya’s title defense that took top billing, no doubt the night belonged to Moreno.
The “Assassin Baby” dethroned arguably one of the most fearsome knockout artists in the UFC, submitting former champion Deiveson Figueiredo to win the promotion’s Flyweight Championship.
After absorbing the Brazilian’s power punches, Moreno did what he does best, take the fight to the ground and forced “Deus da Guerra” to tap out with a smothering rear-naked choke in round 3.
What an amazing fight it was. Moreno’s reaction afterward made it even more epic. The moment Figeuredo tapped, Moreno was in disbelief. Shocked even.
He couldn’t believe it, as he stared blankly as the crowd cheered for him. It only sunk in when his defeated opponent came over and congratulated him.
That’s pure class shown by the Brazilian, by the way. Once Moreno realized what he just accomplished, it was pure bliss. Emotions rushed through him as Dana White put the belt on his chest.
Perhaps even grown men shed some tears at home while watching from their TV screens.
In the process, Moreno also became the first Mexican-born UFC champion. Sure, ex-title holders like Cain Velasquez and Henry Cejudo had Mexican blood in them, but they weren’t born in their home country like Moreno was.
Moreno’s title conquest is indeed one of the best stories in all of sports this year. He’s the complete underdog. Moreno wasn’t even supposed to be in the UFC let alone be champion.
He was picked last during his stint in the The Ultimate Fighter Series. That’s tough. After back-to-back losses in the promotion, he was cut back in 2018.
Instead of giving up on his dream, Moreno used it to get better. He took some fights in other promotions and found himself back in the octagon. This time around, he didn’t let the opportunity slip away.
Moreno racked up three straight victories before pushing Figueiredo to the limit in their first encounter, which ended in a draw. The rematch, of course, will go down in the annals of UFC history.
Sure, we all love dominant and untouchable champions like Valentina Shevchenko or Kamaru Usman.