Whatever was left of the relative anonymity under which Marlon Moraes competed in the World Series of Fighting has disappeared.
Moraes won for the 16th time in 17 appearances and planted his flag as a potential No. 1 contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight division, as he disposed of Jimmie Rivera with a first-round head kick and follow-up punches in the UFC Fight Night 131 main event on June 1 in Utica, New York. Rivera met his end 33 seconds into Round 1, his run of consecutive victories snapped at 20.
Since debuting in the UFC with a contentious split decision defeat to Raphael Assuncao in June 2017, Moraes has gone 3-0, his knockout of Rivera preceded by wins over John Dodson and Aljamain Sterling. It puts the 30-year-old former WSOF champion on the doorstep to a title shot at 135 pounds, as the MMA world awaits the rematch between T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt on Aug. 4. For now, Moraes sits tight at No. 5 in the latest Sherdog.com divisional rankings.
Meanwhile, four-time NCAA All-American wrestler Gregor Gillespie moved to 12-0 overall and 5-0 inside the Octagon, as he submitted Vinc Pichel with an arm-triangle choke in the second round of the UFC Fight Night “Rivera vs. Moraes” co-headliner. Gillespie has enjoyed a quick rise to relevance in the lightweight division since joining the UFC roster in September 2016. Wins over Pichel, Jordan Rinaldi, Jason Gonzalez, Andrew Holbrook and Glaico Franca have pushed the Long Island MMA rep onto the contenders list at 155 pounds.
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