The main event for USKA Night of Champions this Saturday (October 21st) will make promotional history: the card features Nelson Fortes Moreira vs. Rami Ibrahim for the World Muay Thai Super Lightweight title. Moreira lives and trains in Portugal, making him the first fighter USKA has ever flown in from the other side of an ocean for an event. Avid fans will note that the promotion is no stranger to bringing in talent from outside of the United States, as current USKA champion Ben Pride hails from Canada.
According to USKA promoter Irv Althouse, the reason for bringing in Moreira was simple: he wanted to have the best possible opponent to contend with current lightweight titleholder Rami Ibrahim. “We first tried to bring a fighter from France—it didn’t work out. So, I did my research and Nelson’s name came up.”
The importance of finding a worthy opponent to face Ibrahim is due to his level of recognition and achievement. Ibrahim has had 186 lifetime fights and has held (and continues to hold) many world Muay Thai titles. In addition, Althouse feels that bringing international talent to an event increases the stakes and the significance of claiming that a belt-holder is a world champion. “Many people say they do world titles. Well, this is as world as world gets!”
For Moreira, who is trained by Dina Pedro, the fight’s location is motivation enough. “What excites me the most is that it’s a fight that can give me more visualization because it’s in the United States, the country I’ve always dreamed of knowing.” The Portuguese pugilist currently holds the FIMT (Italian Federation of Muay Thai) title, making this fight the battle of champions that gives the event its moniker. However, it was winning the European Champion FIKBMS title in 2014 that Moreira calls his biggest success since it was his first belt. He’s quick to add that, while he is proud of his previous accomplishments, his focus is on the future. “I work and I always look for more and better for me.”
With 28 wins (five KOs) and five losses, Moreira’s record is certainly impressive in its own right; yet, it seems somewhat dwarfed compared to the almost 200 total fights accrued by his opponent. When asked about Ibrahim, Moreira admits, “I know little about Rami but I see him as a good fighter. The fight will give me a lot of work due to his experience, but I am prepared for all kinds of difficulties…It will be a good show I can guarantee.”
Moreira’s decision to fly across the Atlantic Ocean to fight against someone who is ranked in the top 10 in the world and first in the USA was based on his tremendous self-confidence. This confidence, in turn, stems from his training. “I think everything we do in training is conveyed to what’s going to happen in the ring; I like to train well so that things go well naturally.”
While holding the fight itself is history in the making, a Nelson Moreira victory would be even more monumental. Althouse explains: “If Nelson wins he will take the belt back to Portugal, and USKA will have a champion there and in Canada. This is great for us because not many little local PA promotions can say that!” While the outcome of the fight is still unknown, the future—if Moreira wins—is clear. Althouse says the promotion would look to have Moreira return to the United States and defend his belt.
Althouse promises that USKA is not finished with its plans of expanding and believes that more events will have international fighters. “USKA has made history so many times, and we will again!”