Seven years after the debut of Marlon “Chito” Vera, Ecuador has a new representative on the doorstep of the UFC, the undefeated fighter (11-0) Michael Morales.
The Ecuadorian faces the Kazakh Nikolay Veretennikov, who caught the attention of the president of the company in Houston and invited him to test himself in the Dana White’s Contender Series on Tuesday.
Veretennikov is enjoying a seven-win streak, five of them by knockout, and comes in as the fighter with the most attention, but Morales, who moved to the Entram Gym in Tijuana, Mexico, last February, says he is not nervous.
“Everyone comes with their ready mentality when it comes to fighting, mine was being responsible with my weight,” Morales said in an interview with ESPN Deportes after the weigh-in. “I trained very hard with the teacher Raúl (Arvizu) and all the Entram jiu-jitsu people, so I dedicated myself to my work, to train.
“I know that I am ready for this, that it is a great total opportunity for me, for my country and for my family. I came to give everything and I hope you can watch the fight to see what I had to go through to get to this moment, “added the South American.
Morales’ unbeaten record is also impressive, and only once has he reached the decision. In just four years as a professional, he took advantage of the foundations that allowed him to represent Ecuador in the national wrestling team to excel in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Arriving at Entram put Morales to the test by training with some of the best fighters in Latin America, such as flyweight champion Brandon Moreno or Argentine Marcelo Rojo and Emiliano Sordi, who lives in San Diego, but the Ecuadorian has become a regular in Tijuana on sparring days.
“It has helped me a lot. I have great jiujitseros like the teacher Raúl and Martín González, who have been my mentors since I arrived. I have evolved day by day and I try to improve to get to their level, step by step, little by little ”, he explained.
Reaching what “Chito” Vera achieved will not be an easy task, since his compatriot already has 11 victories in 17 fights within the promotion and is by far the most active of all the fighters from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America.
“I hope that in my country everyone can see what it is to sacrifice, that everything can be done with the necessary support. With the desire that people have in my country, we can all do it. It’s just a matter of guts and saying, ‘Yes, it can be done,’ Morales reiterated.
The Ecuadorian and Veretennikov face this Tuesday in search of a contract at the UFC Apex on the card starring middleweights AJ Dobson and Hashem Arkhagha, the latter, who failed on the scale by marking 189 pounds and was fined 20 percent of your bag.