Former UFC Flyweight Champion Brandon Moreno Decides to Step Away from MMA

March 27, 2024
2 months

There is a limit to disappointment when it comes to failure in the workplace. When anyone puts a tremendous amount of effort into a project, it’s easy to feel like maybe the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. Mexican MMA star Brandon Moreno is still one of the top five flyweights in the UFC.

But consecutive split-decision losses have pushed Moreno down the rankings. Following a loss to Brandon Royval at a fight night in February, Moreno has decided he would like to take a step back and refocus. The best MMA news sites show that Moreno has had a career full of ups and downs.

Rightfully, Moreno is best remembered for being a two-time UFC flyweight champion. However, Moreno’s lows in MMA have been rough as well. Moreno, 30, needs some time to take a break after fighting professionally for 13 years. While it is likely that Moreno will return, it will remain uncertain if he can regain his passion for the sport.

There are recent examples of fighters who take time off struggling when they return. Former two-division champion Henry Cejudo, who has called out Moreno in the past, has lost both of his fights since he returned from a three-year absence.

Was Moreno Robbed?

Moreno was hoping his fight with Royval would provide an opportunity for him to fight Alexandre Pantoja to regain his title at UFC Mexico City in February. But Moreno turned in a strange performance. Moreno, who had already beaten Royval earlier in his career by finish, didn’t keep up with Royval’s energy.

Moreno attempted 299 fewer strikes than Royval. While Moreno landed at a considerably higher percentage, connecting on 53 percent of his punches compared to Royval’s 28, judges reward Royval’s higher volume. 

Two judges scored the fight for Royval, while one judge gave the fight to Moreno.

Moreno Started Fighting Professionally at 17

Moreno turned professional at 17 and didn’t appear to be a championship-level fighter. Moreno lost three of his first six fights. But Moreno figured things out and ran off eight straight victories.

That winning streak allowed Moreno to be invited to compete on The Ultimate Fighter in 2016. Moreno ended up losing in the Round of 16 on the television show against future rival Alexandre Pantoja. Despite losing to Pantoja in what was an exhibition fight, Moreno won his first three fights on the UFC roster to run his winning streak to 11 fights.

But then a bizarre situation occurred. Following losses to Sergio Pettis and Pantoja, Moreno was cut from the UFC. There was confusion about his future.

Moreno Rises to the Top

Moreno didn’t take long to find success after leaving the UFC. In June 2019, Moreno beat Maikel Pérez by TKO to win the Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight championship. It ended up being Moreno’s only fight in the LFA.

Moreno returned to the UFC, and after a draw with Askar Askarov, he rolled off three straight wins, including a TKO win over Royval, to earn a title shot with Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 256. Moreno should have lost.

However, Figueiredo was deducted a point for a low blow. The bout was scored a draw. It would kick off a long rivalry between the two men.

Moreno Makes History

When Moreno and Figueiredo squared off in the rematch at UFC 263, Moreno turned in one of the best performances in his career. He could avoid Figueiredo’s power and leaned on his grappling to pick up a win. Figueiredo locked up a third-round submission to become the first Mexican UFC champion.

However, Moreno’s time at the top wouldn’t be easy. During Moreno’s first title defense, he lost a five-round decision against Figueiredo at UFC 270. That would end up separating a rarity in UFC history. The two men were scheduled to fight for a fourth time.

But first, Moreno had to fight Kai Kara-France at UFC 277. Moreno knocked out Kara-France, then won the fourth fight with Figueiredo at UFC 283. But Moreno never defended his title during his second reign, according to MMA breaking news.

Pantoja Continues to Torment Moreno

Unlike Moreno’s rivalry with Figueiredo, the fights between Pantoja and Moreno have produced one-sided results. During The Ultimate Fighter, Pantoja beat Moreno by submission. Pantoja won a clear decision when the two first met on the UFC main roster in May 2018.

When Pantoja ended up challenging Moreno for the championship, it was a split-decision win in Pantoja’s favor. But the stats don’t indicate that the split decision was warranted. Pantoja scored a knockdown during the fight.

Pantoja also recorded six of his 11 takedown attempts during the fight. While Moreno did hold a slight edge in total strikes and significant strikes, it wasn’t enough to allow him to keep his championship belt.

What’s Next for the Flyweight Division?

The sudden stepping away by Moreno does provide some opportunities for fighters further down the rankings. Likely, Royval is next in line to fight for the title, but it doesn’t sound like an appealing option. Royval recently fought Pantoja for the title and was dominated by the champion.

Amir Albazi is on a six-fight winning streak and is third in the rankings. Kai Kara-France is fourth in the rankings but has lost to Albazi, Moreno, and Royval.

Moreno’s future is still uncertain. He is still in his early 30s and could hang around at the top of the rankings for a few years if he wants to. However, Moreno has been fighting for a long time and has put a lot more usage on his body than many other fighters. Moreno needs to consider if this is the profession he still wants to pursue.

Moreno has worked with the UFC on their Spanish broadcast, and he may be ready to transition into doing media work according to MMA breaking news.

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By Dean McHugh.