What happens when the World Series of Fighting’s reigning 135-lb champion single-handily eradicates the entire division that sits beneath him? Expand your search globally for worthy competition in an ever-growing landscape of lighter weight fighters. But on Dec. 31 at WSOFNYC, it was clear that no matter what the promotion does, Marlon Moraes appears to be an unstoppable force in the cage.

In fact, the Brazilian outdid himself in his fifth successful title defense defeating Josenaldo Silva in epic fashion at WSOF’s historic New Year’s Eve mega-event via TKO in the first round. Although the fellow Brazilian posed a variety of problems for the bantamweight champion, it has certainly been the 135-lb king’s commitment to building a fortified legacy that carries him from victory to victory.

“I love this sport. I want to leave a good legacy. I want to make that legacy inside the cage, not what I say and not how I act. I want to be the same guy who works hard and do what people want to see – great fights and entertainment,” declared Moraes.

“I work hard for this sport and I hope it continues to grow and people get the same opportunity to do what I’m doing today. I came from a poor neighborhood in a poor country and now I have a family, kids and a house and I can provide to them. I am very thankful and this is one of the things that makes me work even harder. I want to keep going and I want other people to be able to do what I’ve done today.”

The two Brazilian’s squared off in what would become a flurried first round filled with vicious striking and dangerous grappling exchanges before it ultimately ended in Moraes’ favor. But this kind of competitive equality is exactly what the WSOF champion expected and desires because for Moraes, it is about defeating the best.

“We all know he’s a very tough opponent. He’s done a lot of great things in his career. He’s considered the No. 1 fighter at 135 in Brazil,” said Moraes before their bout.

“But this is why I am training and this is why I am in this world – the MMA world. I want to fight with the best fighters in the world. I am the champion now and I don’t pick my opponents. I can fight anybody. And whenever WSOF asks, I am going to say yes.”

It seems like after every decisive victory for the magnificent 28-year-old the murmurs of his next move are discussed rather than his utter dominance. Moraes is easily in a much more interesting position than his UFC counterparts after wiping clean the contender market in the bantamweight division forcing WSOF to scope new talent outside of the promotion. And it is this idea exactly, that sets Moraes’ championship reign apart from the rest.

“I think my position today is harder than a UFC champion. In the UFC they have probably five challengers now [for the belt] and the champion kind of knows who he is going to fight eventually,” said Moraes.

“But WSOF is doing a great job and they are going to find a great guy who is going to be a challenge for me. They want to see a good fight and they got it. They got a great opponent and I can’t wait to show I am the best 135-lb fighter in the world.”

On the main card at WSOF’s biggest event, with its largest audience at its most revered venue, Moraes easily delivered. The 28-year-old is keenly focused of his ever growing legacy and his continued dominance at 135 lbs. – no matter who he faces or where.

“[It is] not just the stage, but everything that surrounds this fight for me [that makes it important],” said Moraes prior to the fight at Madison Square Garden.

“The entire history I have with WSOF and what I’ve been doing in the last couple years. I think now is time for my big showing, a big challenge, great opponent and I can’t wait. I belong where I am now and I can’t wait to show everybody what I can do.”

Although his next opponent remains uncertain, one thing’s for sure, Moraes will be ready, willing and more than able to build on his already impressive legacy in the cage.

Photos: WSOFNYC’s Marlon Moraes vs. Josenaldo Silva Bantamweight Title Fight