ONE Interim Flyweight champion Adriano Moraes has a rare shot at redemption in Macao
ONE Championship on Aug 03, 2017 12:08 PM
“I need to take that belt again. I want this too much.” - Adriano Moraes (Photo courtesy of ONE Championship)
By AJ Springer
Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes (15-2) holds his fate in his hands.
The Brazilian is the ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion, is riding a two-fight win streak, and on Saturday, 5 August, he will get an opportunity to defeat the last man who beat him and become the undisputed best flyweight in the world.
Moraes will square off against ONE World Flyweight Champion Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov in a title unification match at ONE: KINGS AND CONQUERORS, live from the Cotai Arena in Macao.
The 29-year-old has waited two years for the opportunity to fight Akhmetov again, as "The Kazakh" was the one who narrowly took the title away from him in November 2015 via split decision.
“It is a big dream,” Moraes says. “This time, it is not just about a championship. It is just a big fight, because I have never in my career fought against the same guy twice. This is the first time. For me, it is more exciting for this to happen.”
In their initial meeting at ONE: DYNASTY OF CHAMPIONS (BEIJING II), Moraes remained competitive throughout the 25-minute affair. The seesaw grappling battle saw Akhmetov control where the fight went through his elite Greco-Roman Wrestling. But once the contest hit the canvas, “Mikhino” continued to mount offense from the bottom position, constantly threatening with submissions.
Still, two of the judges awarded the bout, and the flyweight crown, to “The Kazakh.”
“I do not have a problem with the judges’ decision,” Moraes says. “The loss has given me too much in terms of learning and growth. When you lose a fight, you gain other things.”
A lot has changed since their initial meeting. Since getting that victory two years ago, Akhmetov has been out of action. He has spent his time recovering from a recurring back injury and taking care of some personal issues.
Moraes, however, remained busy. Following the loss, the Brazilian black belt added some new tools to his skill set, and returned to the cage stronger than ever.
The road back to title contention began in March 2016 at ONE: UNION OF WARRIORS against Eugene Toquero, and his comeback was nearly over before it started. He overcame an early Toquero knockdown courtesy of a flying knee in the opening salvo, coming from behind to stun his Filipino foe with a D'arce choke as time ticked to a close in the first round.
That impressive outing was enough to earn “Mikhino” a rematch against Ahkmetov. When the champion went down with his aforementioned back injury, Moraes instead clashed with Tilek Batyrov for the interim strap at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD in August 2016.
Once again, he scored a first-round submission, and claimed the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship.
Both of those victories have led Moraes to a collision course with Akhmetov, but now the rematch has even more at stake. Despite being a chance to avenge his last loss, it is also a title unification contest to crown the one true king, and another opportunity for Moraes to give “The Kazakh” the first blemish of his career.
“He is very good. He is an undefeated fighter. He is a wrestler who has a good ground game and skills,” Moraes acknowledges.
That will be an area “Mikhino” will surely test, as he is determined to etch his name in the history books and leave the Cotai Arena as the undisupted best flyweight in the world.
“It is a big fight. I am very excited, and everybody around the world wants to see this fight,” he says. “I need to take that belt again. I want this too much.”