ONE Flyweight World Champion. Adriano “Mikinho” Moraes once stumbled in his golden career, but over the past year, he has returned to prominence as the undisputed best flyweight in the world.
The 29-year-old Brazilian won the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Championship in September 2014, and although he lost the belt in November 2015 to undefeated Kairat “The Kazakh” Akhmetov, he reclaimed it from the very same man two years later.
Now, with a fresh title defense under his belt, Moraes can reflect on a stellar 2017, and look towards many more successful title defenses in the future. Before that, let’s take a look at four of his best performances in the ONE cage.
#4 Taking Geje Eustaquio’s Neck To Capture Flyweight Gold
After an falling on the wrong side of split decision in his November 2013 promotional debut, Moraes had a pair of dominant wins, which earned him an opportunity against Team Lakay’s Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio for the inaugural ONE Flyweight World Championship.
The bout headlined the organization’s debut show in Cambodia, ONE: RISE OF THE KINGDOM, in September 2014. That night, it was guaranteed that a new champion was going to be crowned.
Both competitors threatened early with strikes, with Eustaquio being the crisper with his wushu stylings. “Mikinho” showed great movement though, dodging many of his rival’s swift strikes. He ran in for a single leg takedown halfway through the bout, but the Team Lakay flyweight showed excellent defense to keep the match upright.
Early in the second round, the pair displayed their boxing. While the exchanges were thrilling, Moraes again went for the takedown halfway through the stanza, and brought the Filipino down against the cage fence. “Gravity” tried to scramble away, but the Brazilian clasped on a guillotine choke, tightened the hold, and forced the tap to become the promotion’s first-ever flyweight world champion.
#3 Choking Out Eugene Toquero In An Inspiring Comeback
In March 2016, Moraes tried to bounce back from that razor-thin split decision loss to Akhmetov four months ago. For a short while, it seemed as if the Brazilian was about to experience the first losing streak of his entire martial arts career.
He met Filipino knockout artist Eugene Toquero at ONE: UNION OF WARRIORS, and it was a thrilling back-and-forth affair. Toquero almost put Moraes away in the very first round, connecting with a pair of flying knees that had the Brazilian reeling across the cage.
However, Moraes was able to remain calm, and took the surging Filipino down to the canvas, where he stayed busy and regained his bearings. Once back on their feet, “Mikinho” continued engaging with Toquero, but it was merely a setup to get close enough to secure the takedown.
With under two minutes left in the opening frame, Moraes once again slammed the Filipino down to the canvas, transitioned into side control, and peppered him with strikes until he locked in a brabo choke. Toquero would tap with just seven ticks left in the opening frame.
#2 Ruining Kairat Akhmetov’s Perfect 23-0 Record
Ever since losing the flyweight belt to Akhmetov in November 2015, Moraes was a man possessed, striving day and night to regain it. As a first step, he won two tough bouts to clinch the ONE Interim Flyweight World Championship, and earned the right to rematch the unbeaten Akhmetov at ONE: KINGS & CONQUERORS this past August.
In the rematch, Moraes seemed absolutely reenergized. He cleverly mixed up his striking attacks, put together solid combinations, utilized his reach to repeatedly tag “The Kazakh” and constantly bounced around. His movement was superb.
Despite Akhmetov’s world-class wrestling pedigree, it was the Brazilian who had more success in the grappling department. He defended magnificently against the takedowns, and always appeared a few steps ahead of the Kazakh.
By the time the bell rang to end the fifth and final round, Moraes had exacted his revenge. He earned the unanimous decision victory, handed Akhmetov the only loss of his career, and unified the ONE Flyweight World Championship.
#1 Submitting Danny Kingad To Defend His World Title
Fresh off reclaiming the undisputed flyweight world title, Moraes was eager to defend his belt, and found himself back in the cage three months later. He was tasked with heading into Manila, Philippines, to face another undefeated warrior in Danny “The King” Kingad in the co-main event of ONE: LEGENDS OF THE WORLD.
This time around, against another Team Lakay member, Moraes was relentless, and defeated his adversary even quicker than he beat “Gravity.”
“Mikinho” exhibited patience as the 22-year-old Filipino wushu champion pressured him with powerful kicks. Soon, however, the Brazilian caught one of those kicks. From there, he immediately brought him to the mat, and poured on the pressure until he felt a tap.
The Brazilian used his Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizardry to gain top position, and when Kingad attempted to escape, he controlled the Filipino’s neck before masterfully circling around towards his back. It was all textbook from there, as Moraes strategically sank his hooks in, and patiently slid his left arm underneath Kingad’s chin to secure the rear-naked choke in the very first round.