Everybody hates a boring fight. In fact, fighters usually hate boring fights most of all.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Alex Morono has always made it a point to be a well-rounded fighter. He always shows up for war, too. He’s one of those guys you have to respect, because he never backs down from a fight. One can only wonder how he felt when he was on the losing end of what many referred to as a boring decision fight when he faced Jordan Mein at UFC on Fox 30 in July.
“The biggest thing is that I lost a good bit of respect for the game,” Morono told Combat Press. “I didn’t make it to the UFC to not have hard fights. I was really, really disappointed with how that fight played out. Granted, I know I should’ve scrambled harder to get back up to my feet, but, more than anything, I overplayed the opportunity in my head.
“I wanted the fight to be an epic war — a stand-up battle. We were given good placement on the card. [UFC President] Dana White was there, and it was his birthday. I was fighting a kickboxer. I just had this glorious slugfest in my head, and, in the fight, when it wasn’t happening, instead of changing game plans and trying to outgrapple the guy, I stuck to just wanting to stand and throw. I left that fight with no bumps or bruises — like, no damage whatsoever — and that was very disappointing.”
Frustrated with how his last fight went, Morono has taken on a new game plan moving forward. That’s the beauty of MMA. Fighters not only have to be adaptable from a physical perspective, but from a mental one as well.
“I’m really focusing on my strengths,” Morono admitted. “If I’ve got to pull double duty to make the fight exciting and also stop the guys from trying to lay-and-pray, then so be it. I’m just looking to do damage and be technical and make my own openings, instead of forcing things or sticking to, like, one game plan. Plus, I’ve been doing some more cross-training and making myself accountable for finding the right coaches and stuff like that.”
For his next fight, which takes place at UFC Fight Night 141 in Beijing, China, Morono started to broaden his training. He even travels over 200 miles from the gym he owns in the Houston area to mix things up.
“I’ve been going to Fortis MMA, which is a really solid gym in Dallas,” Morono said. “Their coach is like an evil genius for MMA planning and pacing and controlling where the fight goes. I’ve really just been working with my coaches on a lot of different drilling, and just making myself do a lot of the real technical work in between.”
Fortis MMA is owned by head coach Sayif Sayud, who is accompanied by coaches and pro fighters like Damon Jackson and Steven Peterson. Morono’s next opponent is Chinese striker Kenan Song, who is currently 2-0 in the UFC with both wins coming by knockout.
“I know Kenan Song’s a really patient counter-striker, so we’re planning a lot of really good entries, exits, counters and all sorts of stuff for that,” Morono explained. “I’m really just focusing on a good, technical style for him. I found and watched as much tape on the guy as possible. He seems like he is really consistent with his style of fighting. He’s got a really good dangerous counter right hand.
“He’s got a good, sharp straight right hook. He’s got some tricky kicks. The way he comes forward and the way he evades is very consistent. I think I’m a little harder to game plan for, specifically, for entries.”
After a somewhat boring fight with Mein, Morono wants to keep this one exciting. He also wants to put up a spectacular finish. He wasn’t really planning on fighting again in 2018, but he got the call a month and a half out. There was no hesitation in taking on a tough opponent.
“Sean Shelby and Mick Maynard, they’re the matchmakers, and they are like the unsung heroes of the UFC,” Morono said. “Nobody understands where the opportunities come from and who puts these fights together. I think Dana focuses on the big-money fights, which is cool. He’s established this well-oiled machine with the UFC.
“I always fight as hard as I can in these fights. I’ve taken several short-notice fights. I’ve never missed weight. I’ve never said no to a fight. I think I’ve come in the good graces of Sean Shelby, and I was very grateful to get this match-up. Three fights in a year is exactly what I was hoping for.”
If all goes as planned, Morono will keep his UFC record above .500 with a dominant win over Song. The 28-year-old BJJ black belt needs this win to prove to the UFC that he is where he belongs.
“I think, experience-wise, Kenan and I are in a very similar spot in the UFC,” said Morono. “[Shelby] knows this fight will primarily stay on the feet, and he knows I’m willing to travel the world to fight these dudes. I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
Morono would like nothing more than to put his last fight in the rearview mirror. Nobody wants another boring fight, and he has been traveling a few hours from home to ensure that this one will be a “Performance of the Night” candidate rather than a snoozer.
“Everyone knows I just go in there to throw down,” said Morono. “I don’t fight for the money. I just go in there because I love the combat.”