Adriano Moraes is rapidly establishing himself as one of the best flyweights in the world.
He’s the reigning ONE Championship 125 lbs title holder and looks absolutely unstoppable, but he has a serious challenge ahead of him in Beijing this Saturday.
The Brazilian is taking on 22-0 promotional newcomer Kairat Akhmetov in what will be the second defence of his title. Their fight is the co-main event at ONE: ‘Dynasty of Champions’ and Moraes has plenty of respect for his undefeated opponent.
“Kairat Akhmetov is a big name in the flyweight division. He is undefeated and his record speaks for himself. This fight will be huge.”
It’s over a year since Moraes won the title by submitting Geje Eustaquio. He’s regarded as one of the top pound for pound fighters on the ONE Championship roster and is determined to maintain his status as a champion.
I LOVE WHAT I DO, I WILL DO EVERYTHING TO DEFEND MY TITLE.
“This is MMA and when you are a champion everybody wants to dethrone you so it´s up to me to train a lot get in shape and fight to protect what I conquered. I feel very happy being a champion because I will be tested against others tough opponents and it motivates me. My goal will always be to look for big fights against big names in the division.”
Winning the title has had a huge impact on Moraes life and he is very conscious of the responsibility which his status as a champion carries.
“I am living a dream, everything changed positively in my life since that day I won the title. I had so many opportunities, I´ve travelled to places that I could never imagined in my life, I’ve trained with so many good athletes, I’ve helped my mum and my family and friends and I had great opportunities to evolve and develop myself as a better human being.
“Nowadays the children, friends and young fighters see me as a role model and they are proud of me because of the positive results of my career.”
While Moraes is understandably proud of his achievements there is no danger of the champion letting all this success get to his head. He is deeply religious man who says he will remain humble no matter how many fights he wins.
“God always drove me to the right path. We talk about humility but I believe humility is something that you are born with and carry in your heart. I believe nothing changes, I am still the same person that I used to be and we have to take advantage of these good moments to evolve and try to become better citizens for the world. The big deal is being focused, taking care of who you love, doing what you like to do.”
Do not mistake Moraes’ humility with a lack of confidence. His record stands at 13-1 and his only loss was by way of split decision. The Brazilian has beaten some of the best flyweights in Asia and feels he has faced a much higher caliber of opposition than his upcoming opponent.
“Kairat Akhmetov has 22 wins with no loses but I really think he had never fought against a tough fighter like me. I´ve faced a lot of high level competitors like him and I know how it works.”
Moraes is in philosophical form as he approaches his sixth fight for ONE Championship. He thinks that it is important to take a thoughtful approach towards the sport MMA and says his training, preparation and fight night tactics are formed during a process of careful contemplation and analysis.
“MMA evolves every single day and today everybody is coming with some knowledge in martial arts. It is intrinsic to the human being to fight but real martial artists have to be serene, to use the head before using the fists. I like yoga, thinking about what has to be done because I think being smart in the fight is the most important thing.”
Being an MMA champion should be a dream job. You get to travel the world and compete in front of tens of thousands of fans while reaching a level of financial security that few fighters could ever dream of. Yet the most successful mixed martial artists often comes across as either discontent or downright unhappy.
Perhaps it’s due to the pressure that reaching the pinnacle of the sport brings but in this context Moraes comes across as refreshingly positive. He loves being a champion, relishes the opportunity to have a positive influence on other people and will not be giving up his title without a fight.
“It´s extremely important for me to keep this belt to continue my legacy and to give hope to those who strive themselves every day for a better life. I love what I do, I will do everything to defend my title.”