B/R Exclusive: UFC Flyweight Champ Brandon Moreno Talks UFC 270, Lego Collection

Scott Harris@ScottHarrisMMAMMA Lead WriterJanuary 21, 2022

Brandon Moreno
Brandon MorenoJeff Bottari/Getty Images

Sometimes, the MMA gods bestow a gift. Last year, they presented us with a doozy: the most ferocious, tenacious, loquacious and lovable flyweight champion in UFC history. That would of course be Brandon Moreno.

The UFC's first Mexican-born champion turned heads and won hearts after dismantling Deiveson Figueiredo last June at UFC 263. Sobbing as UFC president Dana White threw the belt over his shoulder, Moreno became a star from one moment to the next, right before the eyes of the pay-per-view faithful. 

But even at age 28, Moreno has been around the block. It's easy to forget he was once cut from the UFC.

GLENDALE, AZ - JUNE 12:  Brandon Moreno (blue gloves) is declared the winner during UFC 263 on June 12, 2021, at Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. (Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

This Saturday at UFC 270, Moreno faces Figueiredo for the third time. A draw in 2020 preceded Moreno's win, and the champion is a -180 favorite as of Thursday to get a second W, according to DraftKings. Given that it involves the division's current and most recent champions, the outcome could shape the flyweight landscape for years to come. 

Moreno recently spoke with Bleacher Report about Saturday's bout, his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico, and, of course, his Lego collection. The exchange has been lightly edited for length and clarity.


In your last fight with Figueiredo, were you surprised by how easily you beat him?

Moreno: You know, I understand that fans and people were a little bit surprised with my performance. But I knew about my training camp, I knew about my skills, and that's why I beat this guy easily. Maybe some people were surprised. I was not surprised. 

Because I expected another war in that fight, and I expect another war [at UFC 270]. I've prepared for everything.


The UFC released you in 2018. It's not an easy road back once you've been cut. What kept you going as you worked to get back there? 

MorenoI thought about it, and I was like, what's my goal? Everything was about perseverance and discipline. Just discipline in everything, in camp and everything you do.

The obstacles in life are sometimes very hard to get past. It can feel like there's no way past them. But if you work right now to see the future, and you can focus on getting to your final goals, you can do it.

Maybe the possibilities are different for every person, but talking about my own experience, everything was very disciplined and very focused. I fought one time [in the smaller Legacy Fighting Alliance promotion] and won the flyweight belt. A few months later, I was back in the UFC fighting in Mexico.


Semi-retired former flyweight and bantamweight champ Henry Cejudo will be in Figueiredo's corner Saturday. You and Cejudo were once close, but there was a falling out. What will it be like to see your former mentor coaching against you? 

MorenoIt's fine, you know. [Figueiredo] says it's extra motivation for him, so if it helps him to give a better performance than the last one, that's great. 

You know, that would actually be amazing. Because his last performance, it wasn't a real performance. So if this improves his performance, that would be amazing.


You grew up in Tijuana. What's one thing we Americans don't understand about your hometown?

Moreno: (laughs) There's a TV show called Narcos. Have you seen it? People watch that and they think Tijuana is like a war zone or something like that, that everyone has guns all the time, you know?

I need to be honest with you and say that if you want to find problems, you can find problems in Tijuana. That's real. But for my personal experience, I've never been in a bad situation in my city, never had any problems there. Tijuana is a really nice place to live, man.  

We have people bringing their cultures there, because of people crossing the border there, a lot of them from Latin America, trying to get to the United States. They end up in Tijuana. That's amazing to me, because they bring their cultures.


You're the only fighter among his opponents who has not lost to Askar Askarov. What do you think of him as a potential rematch opponent or just a title challenger in general?

Moreno: Oh, man. He's tough. Very, very tough, yeah. I had a draw with him in 2019.

Moreno hits Askarov
Moreno hits AskarovHector Vivas/Getty Images

He's a fighter who in my personal opinion is a little bit boring. If you fight him, you're probably going to a decision. But that's why he's such a tough opponent.

You never know. Right now, I'm focused very heavily on Figueiredo, and we'll see what happens after that.


What was the fight you learned the most from in your career and why?

MorenoThat's a good question. Just thinking quickly, I think I would say my first fight against Figueiredo.

In that moment, when I got the draw against him, I said to myself, 'Hey, you can really do it.' I was very, very close to getting the title that night.

I told myself to believe in myself, because I can be a real champion. And then you see what happened in the next one, right? But the first one was what made my confidence.

OK, you've got to tell me about your Lego collection.

MorenoEver since I was a kid, I loved to collect things. I am a collector. And now I have the money to get my toys, right? (laughs)

So yes, I am a Lego collector. They gave me a Lego belt that was amazing. I have a pretty big collection now.

It's kind of my escape from reality. There's a lot of pressure on me, all day, with the media and thinking about my fight or my preparation. Or maybe there's some guy trying to cut my hair. (laughs) This is my time to stop thinking about the fights and escape.


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