Marlon Moraes doesn’t have the UFC bantamweight title picture on his mind heading into his pivotal rematch against Raphael Assuncao.
Moraes meets Assuncao in the main event of UFC Fortaleza, which takes place Saturday night at Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste. The bout serves as a rematch from their first matchup in June 2017, which Assuncao won by a close decision.
Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw recently dropped down to flyweight to challenge champ Henry Cejudo in an attempt to become the UFC’s fourth ever double champ. Dillashaw lost via 32-second knockout, setting up a potential rematch at 135 pounds.
Should that happen, the division could be on hold for a while, despite the fact that UFC president Dana White said Assuncao vs. Moraes 2 would be for the next bantamweight title shot against Dillashaw.
Assuncao is ranked No. 3 and Moraes No. 4 in the official bantamweight standings — most would argue the winner clearly deserves the next shot. Either way, Moraes isn’t concerned. He said he would be willing to take another non-title fight even after Assuncao, should he beat him the second time around.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Moraes told MMAjunkie earlier this week. “I’m worried about my fight. I’m there. If I have to keep fighting, I’ll keep fighting. I know I’m good. I know I can beat a lot of guys, and (we’ll) see what happens.
“We always ask the UFC for the fight that’s going to put me at the top to fight for the belt. I asked for (Dominick) Cruz, I didn’t have him, then Raphael was a rematch that was very interesting for me. I think it was a good fight to have. He’s on a streak, I’m on a streak, so let’s go Saturday night to see who is going to be next for the title.”
Since their first fight, Moraes has picked up three straight wins, including knockouts of Jimmie Rivera and Aljamain Sterling, plus a decision over John Dodson. Assuncao has won two since — a TKO of Matthew Lopez and a decision over Rob Font.
Jose Aldo vs. Renato Moicano serves as the UFC Fortaleza co-main event.