Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
The 30-year-old flyweight is a native of Ukraine and spoke passionately about the conflict in her homeland with Russia both before and after the fight. In an appearance Monday on The MMA Hour, Moroz detailed the chaotic lead-up to UFC 272 that left her emotionally drained but also motivated to provide a brief moment of positivity for a country badly in need.
“I [was] thinking, ‘I need this fight. I need to finish and show everybody that Ukraine is strong,’” Moroz said on The MMA Hour.
“I was more focused. I was more focused [because] I needed this fight. I want to show Ukraine that if I win, then Ukraine can win this war.”
Moroz said she didn’t sleep for 24 hours after her win at UFC 272 because she was so overcome with emotion from the experience. She explained that she had tried to steel herself as much as possible throughout fight week to keep her mind on the task at hand, however every day in Las Vegas was a struggle. It was difficult for her thoughts not to drift back to the death and devastation that was ravaging her homeland half a world away.
“It was really hard for me. I cried [a lot]. People didn’t see this,” Moroz said.
“My manager, we tried to make a video for my sponsor for everybody, but I’d start to do something and I’d cry, cry — I could not stop. Every moment I’d say, ‘Maryna, you’re strong. Stop, stop. You’re strong, you need to be strong. Don’t cry, don’t think, don’t look at news.’ But all this time I’d open my Instagram and I’d see news or terrible messages. Russian people [were] writing me terrible messages. My opponent’s friend, she lived together, [would] write bad message, ‘Oh, today, kill [people] and your family die,’ like bad messages. I’d cry, but every moment I’d say, ‘Stop. You’re strong, strong. You can do it. You can.’”
Fortunately, Moroz said that her family is currently safe. They own a farm outside one of Ukraine’s major cities and are helping to supply food to the Ukrainian army. Moroz said she sent her family money because resources are low for everyone in the surrounding area and her mother was beginning to lack funds for basic needs. Moroz added that she asked her family to flee their farm and find safety elsewhere, however they have thus far refused.
“My family is outside [the city], but it’s still dangerous,” Moroz said. “The whole country, whole territory right now, it’s dangerous to stay, because Russians can come to village, any place. So my father make a lot of Molotov cocktails and have a couple guns at home. My sister’s husband go in the army, out right now, he’s protecting the city.
“My family wants to stay,” Moroz continued. “I asked about if I can help them move, [my mother] said, ‘No, we don’t want to move. We will stay home. It doesn’t matter what happens, we will try to live how we can.’ And I cry, because I’m scared that somebody can [come] and something happens, can come in house. I’m scared to think about this, and it’s just scary for me. I want to save my family. I want my family to move, but they say, ‘No, we have farm, we have animals.’ My family, my mother cried, ‘I love my animals. I love my cow. I love chicken. So no, I’m staying. Take guns and I will stay in my house.’ And that’s it. She’s ready to kill the Russian army is they come in the home, to save the home.”
For now, Moroz can’t do much to help other than send supplies, watch from afar, and hope for the best. Because of ongoing issues with her visa, she has no choice but to stay in the United States. But she remains in daily contact with her family, and issued a passionate plea for the conflict to come to an end. Too many of her countrymen have already lost their lives.
“I know a couple of my friends [have joined] the army and died. It’s sad,” Moroz said.
“I see these terrible pictures, kids dying, killing a whole city, fires at home, many scary pictures, and I feel sad. This terrible time, bad emotion — I don’t know how to say it [in English]. So scary. I want to every day cry, and it’s so hard. And I want this to stop. One day, I believe it’ll stop, and no more of this. I want to go back in my country again, normal life.”