“It was all or nothing,” Moraes told reporters Thursday in Atlanta.
Moraes was ultimately finished in the first round by Gabriel Vargas — the seventh consecutive stoppage loss of his career — and announced his retirement at PFL 4. The former WSOF champion had previously announced his retirement in March 2022 after getting knocked out by Song Yadong in his final UFC fight, but then returned for an opportunity to compete for in PFL, where he went 0-3 to close out his MMA run.
Heading into Thursday’s fight with Vargas, Moraes knew if he came up short, that would be it for his career and there would be no regrets with the work he’d put into it.
“I put my heart into this, and I knew before [the fight] that this time, it’s me,” Moraes said. “In my heart, I was talking to myself that I was going to give everything I had, prepare, train hard, and go in there and finish. If I [didn’t] finish, [I knew] I gave all I had to the sport.
“I just thank God for everything that I have. Of course I made mistakes, I paid for them, but those were my mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, but one thing I never did is I never feared a challenge.”
Moraes ends his career with a record of 23-13-1 over a 37-fight pro run, which included earning a UFC bantamweight title shot against Henry Cejudo at UFC 239 in June 2019 — exactly four years to the day of his final fight.
When asked if there was anything else he wanted to say in regards to what his legacy means to him, Moraes kept it simple.
“I gave it my all, and I didn’t [bulls***] anything,” Moraes said. “That’s it, man.
“I was always a dangerous fighter. Everyone that fought me, they were worried.”
Win or lose, Moraes was one of the most exciting fighters you’ll find in the sport of mixed martial arts. With a kill-or-be-killed style, the opportunity for chaos was near guaranteed whenever he competed, a style that led to memorable stoppage wins.
With many big names on his résumé, Moraes says the best knockout win of his career came in December 2017 at UFC Fight Night 123 when he knocked out the now UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in 67 seconds.
“I love every knockout,” Moraes said. “I think Sterling was a big one. That one is memorable, and I like that one.”
This article was originally published on www.mmafighting.com