Top 3 career-defining performances by Adriano Moraes in the ONE Circle

Adriano Moraes’ rise to the pinnacle of the ONE flyweight division has been outstanding, and he’ll hope to show exactly why he deserves to sit atop the promotion’s multi-talented 61.2kg division at ONE X on Saturday, March 26.

The well-rounded Brazilian fighter puts his gold on the line against a competitor who believes he can put an end to ‘Mikinho’s’ third reign as the division king. That man is none other than No. 2-ranked contender Yuya ‘Little Piranha’ Wakamatsu.

Wakamatsu has been in fine form of late, but ‘Mikinho’ hasn’t been impressed by his Japanese contender’s five-match winning streak.

The 32-year-old believes that ‘Little Piranha’ has been putting in less than convincing performances and that his wins have been “ugly”. He wants to make a statement by scoring a highlight-reel finish against the striking specialist at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in less than two weeks.

Ahead Moraes’ 14th appearance on the global stage, we take a look at some of his best outings in the ONE Circle.

#3 Adriano Moraes vs. Eugene Toquero

Adriano Moraes entered his fight against Eugene Toquero after a demoralizing loss to Kairat Akhmetov just four months prior. He went down to ‘The Kazakh” via split decision and lost his flyweight gold in the process.

Winning was an absolute must for ‘Mikinho’ – and he had to dig very deep to get himself back into the winner’s circle.

The 32-year-old’s arsenal was no match for the quick and skillful Toquero, who shut down the former champ’s ground game and launched a flying knee with ill intent. Despite Adriano Moraes’ best efforts to start off strong against the Filipino warrior, he was bruised, battered, and on wobbly feet just minutes into the contest.

Toquero continued to press the Brazilian with his proficiency in the striking department, but it wasn’t enough to take out the brave American Top Team star.

The Brazilian absorbed the damage, gained enough time to recuperate and showed his warrior spirit, taking his rival down to the canvas before working his way to a brabo choke finish at 4:53 of the opening frame.

In terms of comeback victories, few could top this display by Adriano Moraes.

#2 Adriano Moraes vs. Kosuke Suzuki

Two things make Adriano Moraes one of the most outstanding flyweight athletes – his aggression and his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills.

These two blended effectively and coupled with a fired-up Adriano Moraes is a recipe for disaster for any opponent. Kosuke Suzuki found that out firsthand when the pair clashed at ONE: Era of Champions in June 2014.

The flyweight star attacked right from the opening bell with a takedown and used his lanky frame and flexibility to punish his rival with armbars and arm-triangle chokes from the top position.

Suzuki stayed sharp and tried to fight from guard, but his grappling skills couldn’t keep up with the Brazilian, who eventually settled the contest with an arm-triangle choke just 95 seconds into the third frame.

Like he did in the earlier rounds, the Brazilian shot for a takedown, drained his rival’s stamina on the canvas, and locked in a tight squeeze around Suzuki’s left arm and head to pick up his second win in ONE.

#1 Adriano Moraes vs. Demetrious Johnson

‘Mikinho’s’ win over Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson was an apt reminder of how much he has improved over the years. As far as the term ‘career-defining’ is concerned, none could ever top his finish of the American veteran at ONE on TNT in April of last year.

Johnson, who earned his crack at the Brazilian’s strap by winning the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix, was the favorite to win this scheduled five-round war. He was, after all, a 12-time MMA world champion, a man dubbed as the GOAT of MMA, and a top pound-for-pound MMA athlete.

However, none of that mattered. The Brazilian athlete conquered ‘Mighty Mouse’ with heavy artillery in the stand-up department and outmuscled the combat sports icon on the canvas.

And just as Johnson thought he was getting comfortable in the striking department, the flyweight king launched a short right hook that floored the 35-year-old contender. Seconds later, he capitalized on the slightest of openings and launched a stinging left knee that separated ‘Mighty Mouse’ from his senses.

It was a monumental win and a befitting reason to show why Adriano Moraes is perhaps one of the finest flyweights of this era. Catch him in the Circle again at ONE X on Saturday, March 26.

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