When talking about how he’d fare in the UFC, 26-year-old Brant Moore Jr. (8-1) seemed confident that he would win most match-ups, before adding “except that fool that f*cked up Marc Diakiese. I don’t want no part of him,” he once laughed.
“Man, I’d have to grapple him. You know how bad (see: good) of a striker you have to be to make Diakiese want to take you down?”
It appears that Moore was referring to Rafael Fiziev (9-1) after his win over Diakiese (14-4). Moore was just joking, by the way – he later went on to say he’d gladly fight Fiziev if that’s his path to the UFC.
A BJJ black belt under former UFC fighter Derrick Krantz (24-12), Moore’s smothering, position-first fighting style may not be everyone’s definition of “fan-friendly”, but his personality is. His interview with the Caged Minds MMA Show touched on everything, from his love of anime to starting BJJ, to the game League of Legends (his summoner name is killerbee515).
He also talked about how, leading up to his LFA 89 win over Ultimate Fighter runner-up Joe Giannetti (9-4-1), he quit his job as a roofer and began training full-time.
“Roofing is not easy work, and it’s in the hot sun,” explained Moore. “So I’d be doing my job from seven, eight in the morning, all the way down to four, five o’clock. And then, I’d either try to take a nap or just play a game of League and go shower, and then go straight to the gym, and train, give it all I got, go to sleep to go do it again.”
At that point in his career, Moore had won seven of eight pro fights, with a solid four via submission, including a Von Flue choke.
Moore’s girlfriend recognized that people with records like his — then 7-1 — get called up to the UFC when the organization needs a short-notice replacement. They decided that he couldn’t waste his time, body, and energy on roofing. At this point in his career, he could be fighting full-time fighters, and so he needed to be one, too.
His days look different now.
“That time that I’d spent feeding my paycheck is now spent feeding me as a fighter… some mornings, it’ll be like: train, do cardio/conditioning, go from cardio/conditioning and do some judo, and then from judo, do some yoga. Then, after that, I’ve got free time, or probably lessons. I get that break-time in, take a little nap, and then come back to the gym and f*ck it up all over again.”
The lessons he’s referring to are the private lessons he gives to students to supplement his income.
Moore considers being a professional fighter a lifelong dream. In a different interview for Caged Minds, Moore credited this to anime; he told MMA Prospects that the popular Naruto is his favorite anime, and that he’s currently rewatching Hunter x Hunter.
“I’m sure you get that a lot talking to MMA fighters. That’s a big thing; it’s okay to be super weeb now,” Moore laughed. “I watched a lot of Dragon Ball Z, watched a lot of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Chuck Norris, all those guys. I wanted to be like them. They wanted to be the best, and I wanted to be the best fighter since I was a little kid, but I didn’t know what that looked like. My parents put me in karate from three to twelve.
“At fifteen, I started getting into boxing, and then at seventeen, I started doing jiu-jitsu. I found out that, despite the fact that I’ve been striking all my life, I’m actually a genius grappler. Who knew, right?”
Moore hasn’t let his striking skills lapse.
“I’m an undefeated pro boxer,” Moore pointed out. “I’m only 1-0, but I f*cked that dude up!”
Moore won a Muay Thai title as an amateur at 155 lbs. He also competed in a 170-pound Muay Thai tournament (despite his walk-around weight being about 175), and fought three times in one night. Still, grappling is clearly his strong suit. He’s finished the majority of his pro fights by submission, and his decision wins feature strong ground-control.
A BJJ black belt isn’t his only grappling credential, either; back in November, Moore earned his brown belt in judo. Leading up to his LFA main event against Joe Giannetti, Moore claimed to have not been hit in the face once in his last two fights.
“I try to stay pretty,” he joked.
Still, Moore claims his fights turn into grappling matches because his opponents don’t want to strike with him.
“‘I turn strikers into grapplers, and grapplers into dust,’ is the motto.”
There’s some truth to this; many of Moore’s takedowns come from countering his opponent’s takedown attempts. Moore’s judo likely plays a large role in his ability to reverse and end up on top.
Due to him generally dominating grappling exchanges, Moore’s guard game has made little appearance in his pro career. When it did, it seemed to give previously-profiled prospect Lucas Clay (7-1) difficulty, with Moore quickly returning to his feet. Clay’s one of the better MMA grapplers on the regional scene, and escaping his top control is one of the stiffer tests out there.
Clay would go on to give Moore the only loss of his pro career, catching him in a buggy choke, a submission virtually unheard of in MMA. Clay himself asserts that people get caught in that choke when they put Clay in a tight side-control, meaning that even Moore’s one pro loss came from having effective grappling.
Moore’s next opponent, Ago Huskic (8-2), is no small hurdle, either. A 26-year-old prospect himself, half of Huskic’s pro wins are finishes via strikes. Leading up to his last fight, Moore said, “It don’t bother me to strike with anybody, but if I’m getting my a** whooped, best believe we’re gonna be grappling.”
Moore continued, “If I’m getting my a** beat, I’m not finna try to prove nothing. I need this ‘W,’ and I need my brain. I do not need to prove nothing.”
It’ll be interesting to find out what Moore considers to be his path to victory; if he spends any time striking with Huskic, or if he takes it to the ground at the first opportunity.
With a win, Moore could very well establish himself as a prospect to watch at 155 pounds.