From Paris to Madrid, UFC to LaLiga, Brandon Moreno's Euro journey takes his mannequin to the subsequent stage

MADRID — Brandon Moreno attended a VIP celebration on Friday, Sept. 2, on the Eiffel Tower. The invitation was made by Ari Emanuel, the CEO of UFC mum or dad agency Endeavor.

Overlooking metropolis of sunshine, the UFC’s interim flyweight champion and his supervisor, Jason dwelling, chatted with Emanuel hours earlier than UFC Paris. The dialog revolved throughout the UFC’s enlargement plans in Latin America — collectively with the upcoming UFC efficiency Institute in Mexico metropolis — and the methodology Moreno, the promotion’s first Mexican-born champion, components into them.

“[Emanuel] was simply very complimentary,” dwelling informed ESPN. “he is very excited for the prolonged time period, and we informed him the identical. We’re very excited to be a component of his course of and to be a brick inside the muse.”

Moreno, born in Tijuana, is already the face of the UFC in Mexico and a cog inside the agency’s future in Latin America. UFC president Dana White referred to him final month as “definitely one of many largest stars on the roster.”

however Moreno made the journey to Europe this summer season to develop his profile rather extra internationally. He visited Italy, Paris and Spain, the place he was escorted round Valencia and Madrid by executives from LaLiga, the nation’s legendary soccer league as a component of a collaboration with the UFC.

“I understand my market is in Mexico and america, proper?” Moreno acknowledged. “however to me, it is very particular to go to an whole utterly different nation, to a spot the place i am not anticipating nothing. i do not count on the man to know my title or no matter. however people know my title and are asking for an autograph or no matter. it is particular, too. The aim proper now might be to be extra acknowledged all by the world. i am placing inside the work proper now.”

that is all a component of the plan, dwelling acknowledged. It started again in March when Moreno went to UFC London to do some media appearances.

“i really feel actually our aim is to make Brandon a world star,” dwelling acknowledged. “Not solely a star in North America. however to enhance our presence in these markets. These are huge markets the UFC is rising into and we form to want to be a component of that progress. make sure Brandon is capitalizing on the alternatives that his success has supplied.”

MORENO coated HIS mouth collectively with his fingers, virtually in awe. Enrique, the chef of the well-known Casa Navarro restaurant in Valencia, displayed his well-known paella to the desk, which uncared for the seaside.

throughout the desk from Moreno for the Sunday afternoon meal was UFC featherweight prospect Ilia Topuria, who lives in Alicante, about two hours south of Valencia. After lunch, LaLiga officers whisked the two fighters over to Mestalla, the ninety nine-yr-outdated stadium of soccer workforce Valencia CF. Moreno and Topuria spoke with teenagers from Valencia’s academy teams after which acquired a tour of the traditional stadium by information Melanie Gasulla.

outdoors the dwelling locker room, Moreno and Topuria met gamers earlier than the sport and acquired to see the pitch, the place each joked round with Valencia mascot great Bat. Topuria even grounded the character down with a single-leg takedown for laughs. Afterward, they stayed for the sport, a 5-1 win for Valencia over Getafe.

Moreno and Topuria had been each inundated with requests for pictures from followers all by their maintain at Mestalla. After the sport, there have been followers ready outdoors the stadium who had been informed that the gamers had already left. The followers acknowledged they had been actually there to see Moreno and Topuria.

“They had been asking for them,” LaLiga North American vice chairman Nicolas Garcia Hemme acknowledged. “They knew them. They noticed them.”

When LaLiga and the UFC cooked up the thought to collaborate — the thought is there’s an infinite crossover viewers amongst Hispanic people — Spanish league execs requested for Moreno to get back over particularly.

“Brandon is unbelievable,” acknowledged Adrian Segovia, the LaLiga North America head of content material and distribution. “he is an event of a household man. he is altering proper into a legend for [the UFC]. he is a winner. however in addition he is additionally a household man with all of the ideas that people are shifting in the direction of. we count on that is actually one factor that connects with the values of LaLiga.”

The expertise was an impactful one for Moreno, who grew up humbly in Tijuana taking half in FIFA video video games and dealing for his dad and mom’ piñata enterprise. A day later, Moreno was taken by prepare to Madrid to go to Cívitas Metropolitano, the dwelling of LaLiga’s Atlético de Madrid. And Wednesday, Moreno would go to with the prolonged-lasting exact Madrid membership throughout metropolis.

“LaLiga from Spain is loopy, man,” the 28-yr-outdated Moreno acknowledged. “It has an unbelievable deal of historic previous and an unbelievable deal of soccer tradition. It was superior.”

that is the sort of alternative that Moreno is making an try to capitalize on, although, in an effort to assemble his title.

“Sitting on my couch simply is not the biggest methodology to get extra consideration and extra eyes on my private mannequin,” Moreno acknowledged. “i want to exit and meet extra people and extra crowd. that is why we’re right here.”

the current PLAN, dwelling acknowledged, is for Moreno to fight champion Deiveson Figueiredo to unify the UFC flyweight title subsequent. The bout is extra probably to happen at UFC 283 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Figueiredo’s dwelling nation.

Moreno and Figueiredo have met three occasions earlier than. the predominant bout, in December 2020, was a majority draw and the proper fights of that yr. Moreno obtained the rematch by way of submission in June 2021 to develop to be the predominant Mexican-born champion in UFC historic previous. Figueiredo then acquired the greater of Moreno at UFC 270 again in January by way of tight unanimous decision to win the belt again.

At UFC 277 on July 30, Moreno beat Kai Kara-France by way of third-spherical TKO to win the interim title, which was positioned on the avenue as a end result of Figueiredo had accidents to each fingers. If and when Figueiredo and Moreno meet as quickly as extra, it is going to be the predominant time in UFC historic previous that two fighters compete in opposition to every utterly different 4 occasions.

“For Brandon and that i, the phrase we on an everyday basis use is legacy,” dwelling acknowledged. “i really feel proper now we’re writing chapters of his legacy. And the fourth fight with Figueiredo, doing that quadrilogy is an important a component of that legacy. We’re actually excited to win this one and cement Brandon’s place as definitely one of many prime champions ever inside the flyweight division after which deal with the up and coming challengers which might be gonna current themselves.”

After he obtained the title in 2021, Moreno went on a prolonged media tour in Mexico, collectively with a go to to fulfill Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Moreno is beloved in his dwelling nation, and dwelling feels assured his shopper might promote out Caliente Stadium in Tijuana — upward of 25,000 people — proper now. it is an MMA path that was paved first by Cain Velasquez, the predominant Mexican American fighter to win the UFC heavyweight title and the proper fighters ever to compete in that division.

Velasquez parted with the UFC in 2019 and was recently charged with tried premeditated homicide and a quantity of gun assault expenses in March 2022.

“i really feel Cain opened an unbelievable deal of doorways for us,” dwelling acknowledged. “i really feel we have continued what Cain started. Cain clearly was an infinite affect in Latin America, in Mexico. I undoubtedly suppose he created alternatives for us that we have ready to take to the subsequent stage. And somebody hopefully will come behind our footsteps and depart it greater.”

that is definitely one of Moreno’s targets, too. He wishes to take Mexican and Latin American MMA to greater heights, however not solely for him, for the subsequent expertise of fighters, too. Moreno acknowledged he spoke about that with Emanuel, as effectively.

“clearly, I try this for myself, to be the proper and do one factor for my household,” Moreno acknowledged. “however on the identical time, if I can do one factor for utterly different people, i am going to. I promise. Ari appears to be like very glad, very motivated with reference to the ideas inside the prime for Mexico and Latin America, usually.”

White has prolonged acknowledged he wished a homegrown UFC star from Mexico. “He has one now,” dwelling acknowledged. And Moreno and his workforce do not plan on stopping there. On Sept. 5, Moreno spoke about his want to fight in entrance of a packed soccer stadium in Spain, like Cívitas Metropolitano, a lovely, extreme-tech facility that seats greater than sixty eight,000.

Not dangerous for a toddler who had a modest upbringing in Tijuana.

“typically, i try to not suppose an extreme quantity of about it,” Moreno acknowledged. “i am feeling stress on daily basis. Man, starting with needing to fight in opposition to one other man, that is stress. combating in entrance of hundreds of people, extra stress. And belts, extra stress. The media.

“however undoubtedly, it is very good to suppose how my work goes all by the world and being acknowledged by the people, the UFC, the followers. it is good.”