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ONE titleholder Adriano Moraes' path from abandoned orphan to flyweight world champion

'I can show other people what you can do when you believe in yourself.'

Adriano "Mikinho" Moraes (20-3) is focused on building a legacy in mixed martial arts, and another victory over Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson (23-4-1) at ONE on Prime Video 1 on Friday, August 26, will push the Brazilian closer to his ultimate goal. 

The Brazilian fighter had only one mission from the start of his career – to become an MMA world champion – and his talent, coupled with his perseverance and ambition to become the best, allowed him to attain the ONE flyweight gold just three years into his professional journey.

However, Moraes now believes there's more to life than just sitting atop the flyweight division. Outside the ONE Championship circle, the 34-year-old hopes to show kids that if you put in the hard work, anything is achievable. 

"My destiny is to be a world champion, but that is only part of my ambition," he shared. "My destiny is to be a role model for the kids. It is my destiny to be with my family and to keep moving forward with my life.

"If I can teach my classes and pass forward what I have learned through martial arts, I can show other people what you can do when you believe in yourself."

There may not be another role model more inspiring than Moraes. The longtime divisional king has suffered through some of the hardest of life’s circumstances to become one of the most dominant champions in MMA.

Just days after he was born in April 1988, his biological mother abandoned him on the streets of Brasilia, Brazil. Luckily, he was rescued from the streets and found a place to call home at a nearby orphanage, but it was three years before someone would adopt him. 

When a kind soul named Mirtes Moraes adopted him, however, his life would slowly start to turn for the better, and "Mikinho" is eternally grateful to her even today.

"She means everything to me. She is my idol. I did everything for her, and I continue to do everything for her, for this love," he offered.

Mirtes encouraged her son to stay active, and she enrolled him in numerous classes, including capoeira, judo, and swimming. But the energetic kid was charmed by the streets, and eventually, he found himself in a youth gang and engaged in street fights.

Though the streets were a place his mother wanted him to avoid, it was, ironically, where he got his martial arts journey off and running. After losing in a fight, Moraes was yearning to pick up self-defense classes to protect himself from harm – Brazilian jiu-jitsu was his first pick.

He left the streets to train at the well-established Constrictor Team under Erick Medeiros and Ataide Junior, and his talent was apparent from the start. As he grew, the burgeoning flyweight dedicated himself to his craft more and more, and he picked up a plethora of Brazilian jiu-jitsu titles.

Moraes eventually got involved in MMA, making his debut at a local show in September 2011. Over the next two years, he won all nine matches he competed in, claimed the Shooto Brazil flyweight title and was signed by ONE Championship. 

Though his tenure at the Singapore-based organization started with a crushing split-decision loss in the bantamweight division, "Mikinho" moved down a weight class and claimed the vacant ONE flyweight world title by submitting Geje Eustaquio in September 2014.

The Brazilian superstar is currently in the form of his life, and he'll be looking to cement his dominance over the division by retaining his belt and earning a second win over MMA GOAT Johnson on August 26. 

From being abandoned on the streets as a baby to becoming a world champion, Moraes is a true role model for youngsters around the world. 

"My life story is going to show and teach every teenager and kid that when they do not know what to do when their dream is lost that God has more light for you," he said. "God has one more chance for you."