Tyson Nam will carry a four-fight winning streak into his promotional debut. | Photo: James Meinhardt/Sherdog.com
Tyson Nam (12-4, 0-0 WSOF) vs. Marlon Moraes (9-4-1, 1-0 WSOF)
The Matchup: This is the type of matchup that can bolster a fledgling promotion’s reputation. While WSOF certainly relies on its fair share of big-name castoffs from larger companies, Nam and Moraes are intriguing talents who have only just begun to make names for themselves.
The unheralded Nam was signed and then shelved for months by Bellator MMA. Upon his release, the Sports Lab representative squared off with the Chicago-based promotion’s 135-pound champion, Eduardo Dantas, at Shooto 33 in Brazil in past August and scored one of the year’s biggest upsets, knocking out “Dudu” with a counter right hand 1:36 into the opening round. Dantas deserves some blame for taking a lackadaisical approach, as he left himself open for such an ending by rushing forward carelessly with flying knees. However, Nam deserves credit for capitalizing on the opening, especially since one-punch knockout power is not always easy to find in the bantamweight division.
After gaining some much need publicity with the win, Nam was involved in a bitter contract dispute with Bellator before the organization declined to match WSOF’s second offer to the Oregon-based fighter. Moraes achieved his signature win at the WSOF’s debut event in November, using speed and a multi-faceted striking arsenal to earn a split verdict against former World Extreme Cagefighting ruler Miguel Torres. The 24-year-old Florida resident has spent extensive time training with Frankie Edgar recently, which should only further his development.
While Nam is a good counterpuncher with solid power, Moraes -- who took his first MMA bout at age 18 -- appears to be the more diverse overall striker. The former Brazilian muay Thai champion has a varied array of kicks and uses his jab well to control range. He also works the body well, changing levels with his strikes when needed. If the fight hits the mat, Moraes is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt who has at times displayed a crafty submission game. This will be Nam’s first bout in eight months, and prior to facing Dantas, he had not fought since Oct. 1, 2011; ring rust could be a factor, especially since his encounter with the Bellator champion was so brief.
The Pick: Moraes will respect Nam’s power, using whipping leg kicks and his jab to keep his foe at bay. If Moraes elects to push the tempo and be the aggressor, he must be wary of Nam’s powerful counters. Moraes wins by decision.
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