Welcome the MMA News’ Sleeper Scrap! The relentless schedule of the MMA world means that some fans don’t have a full look at a fight card until days before the event, leaving the promoters to decide which bouts you should be paying the most attention to.
Everyone wants to tune in for main events and fights that feature popular names, but that means meaningful or potentially action-packed matchups from elsewhere on fight cards sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
A Sleeper Scrap might highlight interesting style matchups, fighters with notable storylines, or bouts that simply have the chance to be a Fight of the Night contender.
No UFC event this week opens things up for some other promotions to receive a bit more attention, and PFL’s final event of 2022 is easily the most significant card on the MMA schedule.
Many of the matchups at PFL 10: 2022 Championships already have significant importance as title fights, but there’s still a few non-title bouts on the card that are worth checking out. One of those is a featherweight matchup between Sheymon Moraes and the debuting Marlon Moraes, which stands out as a clear Sleeper Scrap from PFL’s final event of the year.
Note: As these two fighters share a last name, they will be referred to by their first names in order to avoid confusion.
Marlon Moraes’ short-lived retirement will end when he steps into the cage to face Sheymon Moraes for the final prelim fight before the PFL 10 main card.
Fight fans last saw “Magic” when he ate an uppercut from Song Yadong at a UFC Fight Night in March that resulted in his fourth-straight knockout loss. The 34-year-old officially announced his retirement after that fight before signing a multi-fight deal with the PFL in September.
Joining the PFL is something of a homecoming for Marlon, as he previously reigned as bantamweight champion for World Series of Fighting (which rebranded to the PFL in 2018) where he established himself as one of the top fighters outside of the UFC.
“Magic” eventually arrived in the UFC in 2017 and dropped a split decision in his debut again Raphael Assunção, but the Brazilian quickly rebounded with a four-fight win streak that saw him stop three opponents in the first round.Marlon knocked out current UFC Bantamweight Champion Aljamain Sterling in 2017. (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
That winning streak earned Marlon a chance at the vacant bantamweight title against Henry Cejudo where he was stopped late in the third round. That loss was immediately followed by a controversial split decision win against José Aldo, which preceded his recent run of knockout losses
Sheymon also joined the UFC from WSOF in 2017, but was submitted by Zabit Magomedsharipov in the third round of his promotional debut.
The Brazilian rebounded from that result with a pair of decision wins over Matt Sayles and Julio Arce, but two losses in 2019 saw him exit the promotion and remain inactive for almost two years before joining the PFL in 2021.
The 2022 PFL season started well for Sheymon with a decision win over Boston Salmon, but he was outgrappled by two-time PFL featherweight champion Lance Palmer in his most recent bout. That left the Brazilian on the outside looking in for the PFL playoffs, so getting to fight on the undercard of the promotion’s last event of the year is something of a consolation prize for him.Sheymon missed out on the 2022 PFL playoffs after losing to Lance Palmer. (USA TODAY Sports)
This fight between the two Brazilians will actually be a rematch of their 2015 bout at WSOF 22, which saw Marlon successfully defend his bantamweight title when he submitted Sheymon in the third round.
Both of these men are willing to mix in takedowns to complement their striking, but given Marlon’s recent run of losses it’s likely Sheymon will at least try to test his countryman’s chin in the early going.
The 32-year-old throws a lot of weight behind his right hand but certainly won’t have the same speed edge on the feet as 24-year-old Song Yadong, who handed Marlon his most recent loss before the former title challenger announced his retirement.
The rematch aspect is definitely worth noting for this Sleeper Scrap, but it’s pretty clear that the main interest point in this fight is to see how Marlon performs after abandoning his retirement plans so quickly.
MMA has seen a fair few fighters experience a run of ugly knockout losses late in their careers, and it’s an even more common trend to see a fighter retire before deciding to return to competition at a later date.
This was certainly one of the quickest turnarounds we’ve seen for a fighter that announced their retirement, and it’s also not often you see someone soldier on after the run of brutal knockout losses that Marlon has experienced in his last few fights.Marlon has been stopped in his last four fights. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)
There’s no doubt that he’s been more fragile as of late, but in fairness to Marlon it’s still taken quite a bit to finish him in a few of those recent bouts.
Cory Sandhagen’s wheel kick knockout obviously stands out as a strike that would have finished most fighters, but it’s easy to forget that “Magic” nearly stopped Merab Dvalishvili in the opening round of their fight before the Georgian stormed back in the second.
Having already missed out on the 2022 PFL playoffs, Sheymon has a chance in this matchup to establish some momentum for next season and also avenge his previous loss to Marlon.
Even with his current run of losses, “Magic” would still be the biggest name on the 32-year-old’s record if he can defeat the former UFC title challenger.The two Brazilians first met at WSOF 22 in a bout for Marlon’s bantamweight title. (YouTube)
In terms of the potential action, it’s a serious possibility that Marlon’s chin truly is compromised, and he suffers another knockout loss. Sheymon isn’t especially known for his punching power and the move up in weight may benefit Marlon’s durability, but anyone watching this bout is going to be looking for the 34-year-old’s reactions in the early striking exchanges.
If “Magic” is able to take a shot better or at least avoid eating anything too significant, this could be an entertaining Sleeper Scrap worth watching before the main card of PFL 10: 2022 Championships.
How do you think this bout between Marlon Moraes and Sheymon Moraes will turn out? Are there any other fights from PFL 10: 2022 Championships that you feel deserve more attention?