Vince Morales (9-3 MMA) is beginning to find a comfortable home for himself in the UFC’s bantamweight division. He last competed at UFC on ESPN +9 in Ottawa, where he took on Aiemann Zahabi (7-2 MMA) and won via unanimous decision. This was Morales’ first win inside the UFC’s octagon.
“Overall, I’m happy with the outcome,” said Morales. “Not so happy with the way it went. I prefer to be in exciting fights. I know everybody keeps telling me it’s a win, let’s focus on the win – yes that’s true but I feel I could have gotten a win and gotten just as an exciting fight. It just kind of played out in a way that I didn’t expect it going. We had it in our mind that he was going to come forward and be in the pocket with me and exchange with me, consistent high volume on both sides. I tried to bring that, it just didn’t play out that way. I’m happy with the outcome, I think I showed some good things but I got a lot more to show. I can’t wait to get back in there.”
Feeling pressure ahead of UFC Ottawa
When any professional fighter reaches the ranks of the UFC, it’s obvious that the pressure is on. Fighting for the world’s leading organization in the entire sport of mixed martial arts is the pinnacle for all competitors. When Morales got his first chance at UFC Fight Night 141 against Yadong Song (14-4 MMA), he came up short. Morales knew that the UFC only keeps the most talented athletes, and was aware of the situation at hand. However, Morales wanted to rise to the occasion. When asked if he felt his back was against the wall or if he was looking at this bout as just another fight, Morales replied, “A little of both, to be honest.”
“I put a lot of pressure on myself going into every fight. It’s just something I’ve learned and still learning to deal with. So yeah, getting that first win was huge. There was just a lot of pressure going into it. Again, I was the outsider, underdog fighting in their home-country which, I mean, all that is kind of pressure. I just want to embrace it and run with it. Hope for the best outcome and let my skills do the rest.”
It seemed the added pressure, and faith in his own skill set played to his advantage. Morales won a hard-fought battle against Zahabi via unanimous decision, showcasing that he has the skills to compete with the UFC’s stacked bantamweight division.
Returning back to the UFC Octagon
With 12 professional mixed martial arts bouts under his belt, 2 of which have come under the UFC banner, Morales is ready to jump straight back into it. He has always kept active in his MMA career, fighting roughly 3-4 times a year. Now that 2019 is almost half-way done, he is looking to make the most of the remainder of the year. Injury-free and riding off the heels of his first promotional win, Morales is already back into the fight life style and preparing for training camp.
“For me, I was hoping [to return] early July. Around that time. Well international fight week, so I am sure a lot of people are. But yeah, I’m hoping around that time, sometime in July that would be great. Maybe even end of June. I’m ready, I’m already back in the gym. We’re already in the fight life, not fight camp mode.’
Staying completely professional, Morales sees himself as a tough match for anyone in the division, including the top 5. However, he understands that there are many other talented fighters that are climbing the ranks towards a title shot. Morales is willing, and wanting to show everyone that he truly belongs.
“I kind of match up well with everybody I see, really. But, I am also willing to pay my dues and show that I belong. I am okay working up the ranks,” said Morales. “But, it doesn’t matter if they [the UFC] needed somebody for a last-minute fight against one of those top guys like Petr Yan or Moraes, or whoever, it doesn’t matter. I train to be able to handle the best and be the best. I’ll be ready for that.”
After a successful first win, it seems the future is bright for this young up-and-coming bantamweight star.
To watch the entire fight interview, checkout TheScrap.co sponsored video podcast The Complete Knockout: