Brandon Moreno expects title shot with UFC Mexico City win, ‘but I have to make a statement’

Brandon Moreno believes he’s one win away from his next UFC title opportunity.

A two-time former UFC flyweight champion, Moreno is set to face replacement opponent Brandon Royval in a Feb. 24 homecoming at UFC Mexico City after original foe Amir Albazi withdrew from the headlining bout this past week. Moreno dropped his belt in a split decision to Alexandre Pantoja in July, but remains one of the top flyweights in the world.

Speaking on The MMA Hour, Moreno said he has not received official word from the UFC that a title shot is next with a win over Royval, but he also doesn’t see anyone else in the division who could mount a better claim, especially after rising contender Manel Kape badly missed weight for a now-cancelled bout against Matheus Nicolau at UFC Vegas 84.

“I don’t see another guy [at flyweight] closer than me,” Moreno said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Even, for example, this last weekend, I think if Manel Kape would’ve done a nice job against Matheus Nicolau, he could’ve said, ‘I’m here for the title, for the opportunity.’ But he missed weight. Even Royval, he lost [his fight] for the title recently, so I don’t know. I think it’s very clear I’m the next for the title, but I have to make a statement [against Royval].”

Moreno, 30, remains one of the most popular and accomplished flyweights on the UFC roster. His past six bouts have been contested with some sort of title on the line, with four of those bouts coming against former two-time champion Deiveson Figueiredo.

Moreno ultimately won his epic series with Figueiredo by a 2-1-1 score, however he has not fared as well against the current champ. After losing at UFC 290, Moreno is now 0-3 in three meetings against Pantoja, although his third try was his most competitive yet.

“I felt, in that moment, a little bit disappointed,” Moreno said of UFC 290, “because I really believe I can beat Pantoja, but he made a really good kind of game plan, just holding the positions and just going for the decision and winning — which is, I don’t know, it’s a little bit frustrating because, at least me, I want to make something special for the people. But at the same time, if you want to win, you can do whatever is legal to do to get the victory, so he did it. He did it well. And he did it well in his last fight against Brandon Royval.

“So I just want to make sure [I’m] making a statement in my next fight against Brandon Royval and get the opportunity for the title next.”

As fate would have it, Moreno is no stranger to Royval as well. The two previously met in a top contenders bout in November 2020 at UFC 255, with Moreno winning via first-round knockout to earn his first UFC title shot. Moreno views the Royval of today as a “completely different opponent” who has improved significantly since that performance, but he remains confident that history will repeat itself when the two flyweights rematch in February.

After that, Moreno hopes his next assignment comes at the UFC’s upcoming Mexican Independence Day event, which in 2024 is expected to be held at the Las Vegas Sphere.

“You never know, maybe I can fight for the title at the next Noche UFC,” Moreno said.

“Dream scenario is to fight at Noche UFC, but let’s see what happens before that, because I hear Pantoja wants to fight in May in Brazil but I don’t know if that’s a little bit soon for me. So I don’t know, man. I have a really good opponent in front of me with Royval, I have to be very focused on him because I know he will be very motivated — with nothing to lose, everything to win — so I have to be focused on him, and then see what is next for me.”

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