When the UFC signed Marlon Moraes following his lengthy run as World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion, most expected him to quickly rise through the ranks of the division.
But Moraes was dealt a stiff first opponent, as he dropped a split decision to Raphael Assuncao.
Last month, Moraes (20-5-1) made his second appearance inside the Octagon, claiming a split decision in his favor this time vs. former flyweight title challenger John Dodson. He followed that showing up with his best effort yet Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 123.
Early in the first round, the 29-year-old Brazilian connected with a knee to the chin of Aljamain Sterling as Sterling attempted to swoop in for a takedown. Immediately, Sterling dropped to the canvas and Moraes waved off the fight himself.
When he was dominating the WSOF ranks, Moraes was putting together highlight-reel finishes vs. Josh Hill, Joseph Barajas, Sheymon Moraes and Tyson Nam. He went six years without a loss, and now finds himself on a two-fight win streak in the UFC.
Moraes also showed compassion for his opponent, wishing nothing but the best for Sterling.
Thank God for the win but way more importantly praying that Aljamain is fine and 100 % healthy !! This game is nothing compared to our health . Must respect for him and his amazing team !
— Marlon Moraes (@MMARLONMORAES) December 10, 2017
Several of Moraes’ fellow UFC fighters were left in awe of the performance, including former UFC lightweight champion and teammate Eddie Alvarez.
Holy fucking Shit @MMARLONMORAES !!!! You my friend are Violent ???
— Eddie Alvarez (@Ealvarezfight) December 10, 2017
Heavyweight Chase Sherman sounded off on social media moments after the performance by Moraes:
Oh my god
— Chase Sherman (@ChaseShermanUFC) December 10, 2017
As did recent flyweight title contender Ray Borg, who was left in awe:
— Ray Borg (@tazmexufc) December 10, 2017