Two very talented bantamweight prospects will square off this Saturday night (Aug. 10, 2013) as Marlon Moraes tests his skills against Brandon Hempleman on the World Series of Fighting 4 main card in Ontario, California.
Moraes has exploded into one of WSOF's brightest young stars after scoring signature wins in his first two appearances with the promotion over Miguel Torres and Tyson Nam. Now, he's looking to cement his status as a 135-er to keep an eye out for.
Hempleman will be making his promotional debut this weekend, and he enters the bout as an underdog despite his technical proficiencies in all areas of the sport. He'll be trying to derail Moraes' hype train and start his own.
Record: 10-4-1 overall, 1-0 in WSOF
Key Wins: Miguel Torres (WSOF I), Tyson Nam (WSOF 2)
Key Losses: Deividas Taurosevicius (Ring of Combat 38)
How he got here: Marlon Moraes began fighting when he was just 19 years old, beginning his career strong with three straight wins but an ill-advised jump in competition to Shooto Brazil handed him two TKO losses in a row to derail his progress.
Moraes followed with a two-year unbeaten stretch but again, a two fight losing streak, both via submission kept him floundering on the local circuit and failing to progress. He decided it was time to move to America with friend Edson Barboza, teaming up with Frankie Edgar's gym in New Jersey.
Since then, he's looked sharp inside the XFC promotion, knocking out Bellator veteran Jarrod Card in just 47 seconds which earned him a shot at by far the biggest fight of his career against former WEC champion Miguel Torres. He showed up and delivered, hurting Torres early and hanging on late to walk away with a tremendous upset decision victory.
The hits just kept on rolling in his last fight against Tyson Nam, where Moraes landed a beautiful head kick and put the Sports Lab fighter out cold to further launch himself into the mainstream.
Now, he's hoping to cement himself as a top bantamweight contender against Hempleman.
How he gets it done: Moraes has a fantastic arsenal of strikes under his belt and throws them in fluid combinations with power. If he can get inside and keep those hands up, he could completely dice through Hempleman's defenses and put the top prospect out.
Expect to see some major aggression out of Moraes if he wants to continue his solid recent run. Moraes doesn't have a huge gas tank or much of a ground game, but he's powerful, throws very good combinations and has the technique to not only hang with Nam on the feet, but to potentially outpoint him and really hurt him if he gets a good flow rolling. .
Record: 9-1 overall, 0-0 in WSOF
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: none
How he got here: Hempleman might be the first MMA fighter to get his start in gymnastics, eventually transition to the sport when he realized he wasn't going to find the proper training to be elite in his home state of Idaho.
He made his professional debut in 2009, scoring three quick victories before a submission defeat set him back. "Hot Rod" hasn't looked back since, however, winning six straight fights including a promising 5-0 stretch over 2012 in five different promotions
He signed with World Series of Fighting earlier this year and showed no fear, taking on tenacious prospect Marlon Moraes in his promotional debut.
How he gets it done: Hempleman is a tremendous athlete and he's going to have to use that freak athleticism to his advantage if he wants to pull off the upset. Moraes is an extremely dangerous striker, but he doesn't have a great gas tank and his ground game still comes into question.
Expect Hempleman to try to avoid getting blasted in the opening round. If he can avoid danger, he's got a very good chance of outworking Moraes in the latter half of the fight. He has pretty slick combinations and can cap them off with heavy leg kicks. If Moraes slows down, those combinations will start connecting every time he throws them.
On top of that, Hempleman has a decent ground game. If he can drag Moraes to the canvas, he has a very good shot of punishing him with ground and pound or perhaps some submission attempts. The longer this fight goes, the better odds Hempleman has of pulling this off.
Who will come out on top at WSOF 4? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!