ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes (17-2) is a complete mixed martial artist, but his main asset is undoubtedly his elite grappling ability.
The 30-year-old is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, who has used his world-class talent to force his opponents into submission and reach the pinnacle of martial arts. Though he already holds the record for most submission victories in the ONE cage, Moraes could gain another this weekend.
On Saturday, 23 June, he will collide with his old rival, ONE Interim Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio, in the main event of ONE: PINNACLE OF POWER. This fascinating World Champion versus World Champion bout takes place at the Studio City Event Center in Macau.
Before these flyweight warriors collide, take a look back at three of Moraes’ best submission victories in ONE Championship.
An Extraordinary Comeback
Following his split-decision World Title defeat to then-unbeaten ONE debutant Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov, Moraes made some major life changes.
In early 2016, he relocated from Brazil to Florida in the United States to train at American Top Team, bring a renewed focus to his career, and improve as a martial artist.
Evidently, the move paid off.
When he clashed with Filipino knockout artist Eugene Toquero at ONE: UNION OF WARRIORS in Yangon, Myanmar, in March 2016, “Mikinho” displayed his improvements, and showed extraordinary perseverance in the face of adversity.
The Brazilian scored a pair of takedowns early in the contest, but as he went for a third, the Filipino unleashed a devastating flying knee. The former World Champion held onto a leg, but once Toquero escaped, he staggered backwards on wobbly legs.
“Mikinho” was physically hurt, but his heart was still in the match. Toquero charged forwards with some more strikes, but the Brazilian instinctively hit another takedown, and even worked towards a north-south choke.
After a brief pause for the doctor to examine a cut, the action continued. The Brazilian went for a flying knee of his own, and though he missed, he used it to close the distance and secure another takedown.
From there, the BJJ black belt controlled Toquero, and even when the Filipino recovered half guard, Moraes found the opening for a Brabo Choke. The Filipino tapped with seven seconds left in the first round.
Reclaiming The Top Spot
With Akhmetov sidelined due to a back injury, Moraes got the chance to claim gold once again.
He was put up against Tilek “Baatyr” Batyrov – an Alash Pride Grand Prix Champion and a two-time Combat Sambo World Champion – for the ONE Interim Flyweight World Title in August 2016.
“Mikinho’s” hunger to get back to the peak of the division showed in their main event bout at ONE: HEROES OF THE WORLD in Macau.
Batyrov took the center of the cage in an effort to strike, but the Brazilian did not afford him the opportunity. He took the Kyrgyz down quickly, and spent most of the opening round unloading ground strikes and fishing for submissions.
In the second stanza, “Baatyr” was promptly taken back to the ground. He was able to scramble out of a rear-naked choke attempt, return to his feet, and attack with strikes, but he soon made a mistake by trying to jump for a guillotine choke.
Moraes expertly jumped at the same time to land straight into half guard, then transition into side control. He had reestablished dominant position almost immediately.
The Brazilian continued his hunt for a submission, and finally found success after he moved to mount and started some heavy ground and pound.
The blows forced “Baatyr” to turn and give up his back, which Moraes capitalized on in an instant. He grabbed a rear-naked choke, and secured victory with 11 seconds left in round two.
Moraes captured the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship, and punched his ticket for a World Title unification rematch with Akhmetov.
A Flawless Performance In Manila
Three months after defeating Akhmetov by unanimous decision to become the undisputed ONE Flyweight World Champion, Moraes kicked off his second World Title reign in style.
Although the crowd rallied behind theFilipino favorite, “Mikinho” pulled off arguably his most dominant victory in the ONE cage.
Though Kingad was able to stay on his feet for more than half of the first round, the World Champion eventually caught a kick, dropped “The King” with a cross, and followed him to the canvas.
With more than two minutes left in the round, Moraes had plenty of time to use his jiu-jitsu wizardry to find the finish. He needed it, too, as the young challenger maintained an active defense, blocking the Brazilian’s progress in top position – even when he moved to side control.
The breakthrough came when Kingad tried to scramble free. He got to his knees, but Moraes maneuvered quickly around to his opponent’s back.
He defended valiantly, but once “Mikinho” locked up a body triangle and grabbed a rear-naked choke, “The King” was forced to tap out with just 15 seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
Moraes’ next opponent will be his former rival – and Kingad’s teammate – Geje Eustaquio, in a World Champion versus World Champion title unification bout in Macau.
Macau | 23 June | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast