Marlon Moraes has emerged as the WSOF’s premier bantamweight. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Marlon Moraes (10-4-1, 2-0 WSOF) vs. Brandon Hempleman (9-1, 0-0 WSOF)
The Matchup: With victories over Miguel Torres and Tyson Nam in his first two WSOF appearances, Moraes has established himself as one of the promotion’s brightest young stars. Now the 25-year-old moves into the role of the hunted, as he squares off with a relative unknown in Hempleman.
A Team Sklavos product, Hempleman grew up training gymnastics before transitioning to mixed martial arts in his teenage years. That background becomes evident through his balance and movement inside the cage. In his last outing, Hempleman defeated Paul McVeigh at a 130-pound catchweight in the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 50 main event, maintaining a steady pace throughout while landing kicks to the legs and punching combinations to the head. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Hempleman has yet to demonstrate any real power; only one of his nine career triumphs has come via knockout.
Hempleman will have his work cut out for him if he hopes to implement a similar game plan against Moraes, a Brazilian muay Thai world champion. Moraes probably has the more diverse striking arsenal; he utilizes a variety of kicks -- it was a head kick that initially floored Nam -- and he is adept at working the body, as well.
Hempleman did a good job staying out of range of McVeigh’s strikes, but Moraes can be an aggressive starter who will look to force the tempo in the early going. He has good finishing instincts and will land in flurries if he senses an opponent is hurt. The Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu representative has a competent submission game of his own and will not be overwhelmed if the fight goes to the ground. Additionally, Moraes can use his jab to set up takedown attempts to keep his adversary guessing.
The Pick: Moraes has already begun to prove himself against more talented competition, and he will be able to move forward consistently against Hempleman without fear of being rocked. Moraes wins by decision.
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