Moraes (23-6-1 MMA, 5-2 UFC) has won five of his last six and is coming off a split-decision win over former UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo last December at UFC 245.
After notching three successive first-round stoppage wins over Aljamain Sterling, Jimmie Rivera and Raphael Assuncao, Moraes earned a shot at the bantamweight title last June at UFC 238, but was stopped by Henry Cejudo in Round 3.
He was then scheduled to headline the UFC’s June 13 card and Petr Yan in Kazakhstan, but the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since then, Cejudo has retired and relinquished the bantamweight strap and Yan has been awarded a shot at the vacant title at UFC 251 on July 11. But instead of Moraes, the Russian will take on the man “Magic” just defeated, Aldo.
So, with Yan booked and a title shot currently out of reach, Moraes has his eyes on former champions Garbrandt and Cruz, and has called out the pair on Instagram.
“I’m not the best making excuses! I was taught to say yes for every challenge. Get the F.. in the Ring and Fight. Enough is enough thats names available and they all saying No. what’s up? @cody_nolove fastest hands in all roster etc etc why No 🤷🏻♂️??? @dominickcruz best bantamweight all the time etc etc why no 🤷🏻♂️???”
Garbrandt (12-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC), who is represented by the same manager as Moraes, was quick to respond, telling him that he’d be ready to go in October.
“October you already was told this from your manager @aliabdelaziz000 don’t come on here trying to act tough. State the facts.”
After almost four years away due to injury, Cruz (22-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) returned at UFC 249 in May to challenge then-bantamweight champion Cejudo, but was stopped in Round 2. It was his first fight since losing his title to Garbrandt in December 2016.
Garbrandt, meanwhile, returned from a 15-month hiatus and snapped a three-fight skid with a “Knockout of the Year” candidate against Assuncao at UFC 250.