The stakes are high for Alex Morono when he makes his eighth UFC appearance this weekend.
The 28-year-old welterweight from Houston, Texas, will be competing against Zak Ottow on the preliminary card of UFC Fight Night 146 in Wichita, Kansas. At first glance, it’s a fight without much consequence for either fighter.
Sure, neither fighter has won consecutive fights since 2016, and Ottow has never experienced a two-fight winning streak in the UFC, but Alex Morono’s conversation with John Hyon Ko allowed greater insight into the significance of this matchup.
Expect an ugly fight at UFC Wichita
Morono will be fighting out his second UFC contract this weekend in Wichita, and he plans to make a major statement against a guy who he believes does not have the same grit, determination, and desire that he does.
“Man, he’s [Ottow] going to regret this because he doesn’t like to brawl. He does not like to get hit… And like that’s the main thing I try to do is just get into gunfights and firefights in these fights,” Alex Morono told John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock.
Morono welcomes a war, and he doubts that Ottow wants the same; so it’s strange to Morono that his opponent would want this fight in the first place.
“I never asked for this fight,” Morono explained.
“He asked for this fight and then it didn’t happen. Then he got another fight. He fought Sage and then he asked for it again and we didn’t get it. And like I have asked for certain fights in the UFC and as soon as I don’t get them I move on. I’ll either fight whoever they offer or I’ll shoot at a different name. But he just stayed on it for so long.”
“I think it’s because he watched my Jordan Mein fight and he saw me get beat with some lay and pray, but that was a unique fight.”
“I had trained for that fight for a very long time and I really thought, more than like thinking, I wanted that fight to be like a glorious kickboxing match and it wasn’t. And I just never accepted the different game plan to grapple. I didn’t really want to grapple and like it just caused me to freeze up but I never really dealt with that before. But I fought wrestlers and grapplers and instantly get up to my feet and then land some punches. So I think he wanted the fight cause he thinks it’s going to be easy.”
“But man, I’ve been training at Fortis MMA in Dallas and the pace there is as high as it could ever be. And my cardio’s on point, my weight is on point. He needs to expect like a really ugly, very bloody fight. And if he thinks it’s going to be easy, he’s going to have a really rough night. I 100% plan on finishing him with punches. I don’t think that’s a surprise for anybody.”
The rise of Fortis MMA
Sayif Saud, Fortis MMA’s head coach, has taken Fortis from being once a small gym with no UFC-signed fighters in 2017, to what is now quickly becoming an internationally recognized and respected name in the world of mixed martial arts.
Alex Morono first made the three-hour journey from Houston to Fortis MMA last year while training for the Jordan Mein fight. After experiencing the benefits of training under Saud and the team at Fortis, Morono is hooked and now makes the drive on every Monday and Tuesday during camp.
“The team is amazing,” Morono shared.
“The guys are awesome. I’ve known a lot of those guys for a while and like the Houston scene, but it’s the coach there… his name is Sayif Saud, he’s like an evil genius.”
“I’ve never wanted to make someone more proud in a fight. Like I’ve never wanted to get a knockout for somebody else any more than just for this coach, man. He really puts in some serious effort in coaching. He just rallies the troops so well. He motivates it so well.”
“He’s going to be in my corner for the first time for this fight and it’s just such a perfect sacrifice for me to try and go, you know, take Ottow’s soul. That’ll be awesome.”
“I don’t like him very much,” Morono said of Ottow.
“This may be biased, but like you know, I think he’s like an athlete. He’s like a martial artist, but he’s not a fighter. Like when I fight I go in there ready to die, to kill somebody. Know what I mean? Like I’m in there to throw down and not look back and he just doesn’t seem to have that same grit, and not going to say he’s not tough, but he definitely doesn’t seem to be about it. He seems like the kind of guy who athletically made his way through but, you know, when the cards are down I’m going to be the one swinging until the end. And I don’t think he’s that same way.”
On Colby Covington and the welterweight division
While speaking to John Hyon Ko, Alex Morono opened up about the state of the division and shared some insight into his opinion of Colby Covington.
“Yeah, he’s an anomaly. I think he thinks he’s got a bunch of fans, but I’m an MMA fan, and the only reason I’m in the UFC is because I was a fan. I was like a fat teenager who didn’t have any martial arts or athletic training. I just started training because the UFC was cool and have just had enough discipline to train a lot and fight a lot, and now I love it.”
“He [Colby] made a post like looking for sympathy and he was like, ‘I may never fight in the UFC again,’ and everyone was like oh good, that’s nice to be rid of him because he’s so weird with how mean he is and everything.”
“I think he should have surely gotten the title fight and there are just some things you don’t pass up on. You don’t pass up on UFC gold.”
Dana White recently shared that Colby Covington was at the front of the line for a shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship after defeating Rafael dos Anjos to claim the interim title. However, as we’ve come to learn in recent years, the interim title only allows you the very next shot at the champion and not the guaranteed next opportunity at any time.
If you miss your chance – for any reason – you’re thrown back into the line just like any other fighter. It’s for this reason why Morono believes Covington made a mistake to pass up on the chance at UFC gold, even considering the “little health issues” that Covington was experiencing.
“I don’t know if he had an injury or whatever, but, so my UFC debut, I had a very torn ACL for that fight. There were a couple of times I threw some right hands and just kind of fell over. But dude, when they offer that fight, without hesitation I took it and I got my knee fixed afterward.”
“In my opinion, and granted I know I’m not, you know, ranked top 10 or anything or offered title fights, but I would never pass any of that up. Colby, he’s fun to watch. I can’t believe he beat Damien Maia like he did. Who else did he beat? Rafael dos Anjos, beat him up pretty bad too. I didn’t see that coming either. So, I mean, Colby is good. He’s a good fighter, but just the way he promotes himself is very strange.”
The final fight on Morono’s UFC contract
When Alex Morono steps into the cage against Zak Ottow this weekend, he’ll be fighting the last fight of his second UFC contract.
For what some might sense to be added pressure, the circumstance doesn’t change Morono’s outlook at all. He admits to not even thinking about it at this stage – stopping Ottow comes first.
“This is the final fight on my second contract and you know, I plan on getting a finish and then re-signing. I’m just very happy to be in the UFC. There are a million guys I’d fight, I’ll really look at that after the fight. We’ll see what happens.”
“I think if I had put Jordan Mein away and then won this Kenan fight, they could’ve resigned me, but it wasn’t anything immediate. And if I had to choose between fighting out my contract or waiting to get resigned and then fight later, I would have fought now anyway.”
“So this is, if anything, it’s more of a just like a way to keep things rolling because you know, I’m 28 I feel like I have another maybe like seven or eight good years of fighting. I want to maximize my time. If I’m not fighting, you know, now, I want to be fighting soon. So, ideally get this fight, get this win, recover and then fight in another three months.”
Win or lose, Alex Morono believes he’ll be re-signing with the UFC after this weekend, and there’s good reason to believe that’ll be the case.
In his last fight with Kenan Song at UFC Fight Night 141, Morono earned ‘Fight of the Night’ honors after the three-round battle. That, combined with his desire to get in the cage and take short-notice fights, should be enough to keep Morono around. With a win, Morono will move to 5-2 and 1 no-contest, and he’ll likely earn a greater opportunity later this year.
“I’m more than confident that they’ll resign me, even with, you know, I am not going to lose to this guy… But, I think even after that they’d be willing to make it work.”
“I’ve actually taken quite a few short notice fights that did not go through. There were three separate occasions where guys backed out. I took the spot and then just something went wrong. And I know they enjoy the fact that I’m willing to go fight. I always stay in shape. I’m not a very big welterweight, cutting weight isn’t hard, so we’ll see.”
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Jake is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief, based in Tasmania, Australia.