On January 1, 2018, Dan Moret was exactly where he wanted to be.
Carrying a 13-3 record across various reputable promotions, he earned a shiny new UFC contract – his big break after more than a decade at the grindstone. But, as so often happens in the fight game, things abruptly took a turn for the worst. A hospital-pass, short-notice debut against Gilbert Burns in April of that year resulted in a second-round TKO loss. Then, in March of this year, he dropped a unanimous decision to the lower-ranked Alex White.
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The old adage, “you’re either winning or your learning” is clichéd, certainly – but still holds weight. And for Moret, his 0-2 record, and the opponents he faced are affirmations of his journey to date.
“I’ve learned that I belong here,” he told John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock. “I had tough fights and I lost both of those. One was a short notice fight against a top 20 guy in the world. I lost that fight but I had my moments and I felt like the first round was close.”
“And then the last fight went to decision was like kind of a coin flip. I definitely won the first round. The second and third were very close and those were guys that had eight or ten fights in the UFC and these were my first and second.”
Moret’s sense of urgency is palpable, and an extended period away following the loss to White was simply not an option.
“I’m 32-years-old, I ain’t got time to be taken off and puttzin’ around. I’ve had long breaks in the past and different stuff like that, but it took me a long time to get here. I don’t do cheat meals and all this stuff, or go out and party and all those things that get me out of shape and take me out of the rotation of you know being able and ready to fight.”
“I told them right after, I can fight next week if you need a guy. I’ll go anywhere and everywhere in the world and I’ll fight whoever on the roster, I don’t care.”
Moret got his wish, and more. On June 29, the Minnesota native will ride home to face Jared ‘Flash’ Gordon at Minneapolis’ Target Centre. The event and its significance read like a Hollywood script. The fighter, down on his luck, returns to his battleground (Moret went 2-0 at the Target Centre as an amateur), for a fight to define his career. Indeed, for “The Hitman,” he’s not just doing it for himself, but for the tribe.
“It’s the dream come true,” he smiles. “To be able to do it back in my home state and in front of all the family and friends all the fans there the people that have supported me since the beginning you know it’s a real honor.”
“I do this for myself obviously and what it means to me but I do it for my family and I do it for my friends. For them to all be there and to be close enough to enjoy it and kind of be in that moment together is a real big thing for me.”
Home-court advantage aside, the challenge before Moret is a very real one. Gordon is formerly a champion at lightweight and featherweight with Duelo De Giagantes and Cage Fury respectively, and earned his UFC spot through Dana White’s ‘Lookin’ For a Fight’ YouTube series in 2017. Also on a two-fight losing skid, Gordon is a pure pugilist in life and the cage and will fight as if his career depends on it. All things considered, Moret believes the contest won’t disappoint and to the victor, will go the spoils.
“Both of us obviously need a win. So we’re in a spot where we’re going to bring it. I know the guy is not going to take one step back. He’s gonna come forward the entire time and go for a finish. So it’s a great chance for us to put on a real big show. Only one of us is going to win, but we’re gonna put on a great fight and entertain the fans and the high ups of the UFC.”
Preparing for Battle
There’s no doubt Moret is motivated for his return – his Instagram tells us that much. Last week’s expansive shot over the Arizona scrubland is accompanied by a Jim Rohm quote:
“Are all of the disciplines I’m engaged in taking me where I want to go?”
The question is rhetorical, but the answer is yes; Moret gets his disciplines at Phoenix’s MMA Lab, under the guidance of legendary coach, John Crouch. But this time he’s not taking any chances and has bolstered his fight night team with another of the game’s best minds.
“Greg Nelson, who’s coached three UFC world champions and multiple guys in the UFC, is a great coach and has been around the world. So he influenced me a ton and he’s always been there for me. He’ll actually be in my corner there in Minneapolis which I’m super excited about. You know it’s an honor for me to have him there.”
You get the sense that Moret has had something of a raw deal over the last two years. But now, dare we say it… things seem to be aligning. The urgency to get back in the cage seems to be for the right reasons, compared to his eagerness to debut. With world-class coaching, self-belief and hometown pride; his course could adjust. And on facing ‘Flash’ Gordon? Give the fans what they want, says Moret. They will be entertained.
“It’s just a great style matchup I think. I don’t think there’s a chance for this to be a boring fight. We’re both going to come in and just bring it you know and that’s the way I’m trained. I’m sure he’s doing the same.”
Rhodri Morgan is a combat sports writer based out of London, England. When not covering MMA, he can be found roaming the halls of a south London Wholefoods, finding a dog to befriend and rolling in the doomed pursuit of the perfect kimura.