LAS VEGAS – With the situation in her home country of Ukraine getting worse by the day, Maryna Moroz had plenty on her mind outside her fight at UFC 272.
That Moroz (11-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) made the walk to the cage at all at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas should be lauded. That she submitted Mariya Agapova (10-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC) with a second-round rear-naked choke as an underdog should have been trumpeted – and it was in the form of a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus.
Moroz said her heart was heavy in the week leading up to the fight in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I had a lot of pressure,” Moroz said in her post-fight news conference. “I was nervous about the war in Ukraine. All this week, I felt nervous, I was crying. But I tried to focus. … It was really hard for me because I see in Ukraine how terrible the situation is. But I focused, and I won the fight.”
Moroz also had another storyline hanging over her head. She and Agapova are former teammates, and there had been some bad blood leading into the matchup. And while it never rose to the level of bad blood in the UFC 272 main event between Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, it was there nonetheless.
Still, Moroz seemed to bury the hatchet with Agapova after she tapped her out.
“I told her good luck in the next fight,” Moroz said. “We had a good fight, and thank you for fighting. … I’m not mad, because if I’m mad, it takes my emotions. It takes my energy, and I need my energy. So no emotions – calm, respect, and that’s it.”
Moroz said the paperwork is in place to extend her work visa, so she won’t have to return to her wartorn homeland for now. She said she’ll get an appropriate amount of rest after her win over Agapova and hopes to return in the summer against a higher ranked opponent.
But without question, her thoughts will be constantly on the developments in Ukraine, where many of her family and friends remain.
“It’s hard. My mother’s nervous, and I’m nervous about my mother,” she said. “I don’t want the Russian people to come and kill my family. Many of my friends are dying right now. The Russian army is killing (them). I feel terrible. I think if somebody comes and kills my family … I don’t want that. I want people to listen: Stop this, because I want to save my family.”
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