David Castillo finds himself in the RFA Octagon looking up at the lights of Orem, Utah’s UCCU Center. This view is then obstructed as the left leg of 21-year-old Thiago Moises makes it’s way overhead before resting on Castillo’s neck.
A few seconds of pressure and hip movement later and Moises has won the RFA Lightweight (155 pounds) title by armbar.
Although there is one blemish in on his record, he has never been finished.
While UFC veteran and AXS TV Fight commentator Pat Miletich considers the champion “the full package” and his broadcast partner Michael Schiavello noted how difficult it has been for the RFA to find Moises opponents, fill-in opponent Jamall Emmers took the champion almost to his limit, entering the cage with a 9-2 record and more KOs to his credit.
He ended up being just another person on Moises’ victim list.
The young champion has a story that seems similar to other fighters, and that’s because of one common element: passion.
“I left the countryside (Indaiatuba) to live inside of a MMA gym in São Paulo, Brazil (011 MMA Team), where I eat and sleep during the week. I just come home on the weekends.”
The son of a kickboxing instructor has been training since age eight, later transitioning to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Moises has since won titles in the sport at the state, national, and world championship levels.
The product of the original American Top Team gym in Coconut Creek, Florida is ready to go whenever he is called upon, having taken an won his RFA debut on just three weeks notice. He ended it by Rear-Naked Choke in the second round.
Just one fight later he took home the belt against Castillo.
His list of finishes includes chokeholds, taking home limbs with 5-star armbars, and expert pugilism.
“I can fight as a striker, as a grappler, and I can wrestle, but what made me a champion is my hard work and discipline. At this level, every detail makes a huge difference, and I do everything I can day-by-day to make sure I will be the winner when I step inside the cage.”
RFA was recently featured on the latest episode of the UFC’s Dana White: Lookin’ for a Fight which saw the signings of Devin Clark (6-0) and Matthew Lopez (8-0.)
With similar overall records and number of finishes to Moises and with another current RFA titleholder in Andrew Sanchez competing for his UFC contract on July 8 as an Ultimate Fighter finalist, Moises’ time to prove himself on the biggest stage could be looming.
At the present time, he’s still aware there are sharks in the water at 155.
“I am really happy being the RFA lightweight champion among a lot of tough guys. I am excited to show what I am capable of, because I just showed a bit of my ability and skills … I know what I am capable of. What makes me dangerous to any man in my division is my discipline and my mind. This is the most powerful weapon we have, but not everyone knows how to use this. When I am in the cage, it feels like home. This is what makes me dangerous.”