UFC FN 35: John Crouch Says John Moraga “Ready to go” After Title Shot Loss
By Kelsey Mowatt
There are several interesting storylines tied to Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 35 card, and one of them is that it will mark the first time John Moraga has fought since last July, when he was tapped out by flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson. Moraga was booked for a title shot early into 2013, thanks to impressive stoppage wins over Chris Cariaso and Ulysses Gomez. At the time, the powerful wrestler had won seven straight, and the only man to defeat him was fellow contender John Dodson.
So how did Moraga take the defeat? Which ended up being his only appearance in 2013?
“I think it was tough for him,” MMA Lab coach John Crouch recently relayed on Full Contact Fighter Radio, while discussing the 29 year-old’s loss to Johnson. “He was disappointed in himself; he didn’t think he had done a great job, so there was some soul searching.”
“I think his elbow, he hurt his elbow a little bit, so it took him a while to heal,” Crouch noted about Moraga, who battled Johnson into the fifth round before tapping out to an armbar. “That one took a little bit longer to heal…he had a while to sit there, stare at himself, and think about it.”
Moraga was scheduled to fight Darren Uyenoyama at UFC on FOX 9 in December, but an injury forced the MMA Lab fighter to withdraw. The UFC then booked the promotion’s #4 ranked flyweight to battle Dustin Ortiz at UFC FN 35.
“He’s doing great man,” Crouch added about Moraga. “He’s really positive; he’s such a great kid. He works really hard, he’s a tough guy, so I’m excited for him to get back into the ring and do his thing.”
Ortiz made his Octagon debut in November at UFC FN 32, and took out Jose Maria Tome in the second round with strikes. The win was the Roufusport fighter’s fourth in a row, and was the ninth stoppage victory he’s recorded since turning pro in 2010.
“It’s been going good and we’re super psyched and ready to go; we’re almost done,” Crouch said, while discussing Moraga and his camp for UFN 35. “Dustin’s a stand-up fighter, he’s pretty aggressive, go forward, strong kind of guy so I think John’s looking forward to that too.”
Although Moraga was a two-time, All American wrestler at Arizona State University, the flyweight’s striking skills have also drawn praise.
“So much of fighting against “Mighty Mouse” (Johnson) is about how to cut off the ring and keep him in front of you…I think Dustin’s going to be happy to get in there and try to smack him in the face, so, it should be a fun fight to watch.”
UFC FN 35 will be hosted by The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia. The card will be headlined by a middleweight fight between former Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold and fellow contender Costas Philippou.
The event will be broadcast throughout the U.S. on FOX Sports 1.