Brian Moore ahead of Jornel Lugo fight: “This is for all the marbles”

We have not seen Brian Moore compete on Irish soil since he made the walk to take on current featherweight champion, AJ McKee, at Bellator 187 in 2017. That night, the Wexford man gave McKee the toughest test of his career but fell short when he was submitted after three rounds in the 3Arena.

After that defeat, “The Pikeman” travelled to Hungry and picked up a submission of his own against Giorgio Belsanti at Bellator 196. Against Noad Lahat, when they fought at Bellator 210, Moore suffered two broken hands and was forced to have a spell on the sidelines. The SBG bantamweight stormed back with two ferocious wins over Son Le Binh at Bellator Birmingham in 2019 and a beautiful knockout in Italy over Simone D’Anna the following year.

Moore found himself behind enemy lines once more in his last encounter, he travelled to Russia to take on Nikita Mikhailov. After putting in endless hours to prepare for that fight, Moore was also going through another battle, and that was a battle with anxiety which had been going on for decades. Brian spoke of those issues at the Bellator Dublin media day.

“I’ve struggled with anxiety for the best part of two decades. I didn’t realise that a lot of things that were occuring in my life were causing anxiety issues and they were manifesting in different ways. A couple of things happened during the Mikhailov camp that brought all those feelings to the surface. I was okay at dealing with it during the duration of the camp, I was getting through it, but getting through it poorly.”

“When I arrived in Russia, I was by myself and I had nothing else but those negative thoughts in my mind. It just hit a different level and it went into overload. I was just thinking that I just need to survive what I was going through. I didn’t sleep for 50 hours, I wasn’t able to concentrate on anything else only the negative and that was when I said to myself that the second I come home that I’m going to ring a professional about these issues. I haven’t looked back since and it has done me the world of good.”

It’s fantastic to see that Moore has turned a corner and now has the opportunity to fight in front of family, friends, and alongside his teammates on Friday night in Dublin’s 3Arena. It’s safe to say that the “The Pikeman is absolutely buzzing to be back home.

“I cannot wait. I can guarantee you one thing, there isn’t a more excited fighter this week than myself. I cannot wait to make that walk.”

“The traveling has a benefit too. You get to fight and see the world, somewhat.  But nothing beats fighting at home, that’s for sure. I’m going to embrace every step and like I always do, fight with everything I have.”

“This is something you’re going to bring to your deathbed. It’ll be one of the last things you think of, walking out in front of a sold out 3Arena. This is the Mecca of European MMA and we’re all privileged to be fighting here.”

Moore, 34, has long been calling for a ranked opponent and has a deep longing to prove that he belongs in the upper echelon of Bellator’s 135-pound division. When he was asked who he would like to fight upon his return to Ireland he requested #9 ranked Jornel Lugo.

“I asked for Jornel, very simply because he’s a good fighter. He’s a great fighter. Very technical. Good on the feet – the way he switches from southpaw to orthodox. Good grappler too. He’s a mixed bag but a very technical guy and we can expect a hell of a fight. This is the two best strikers in the bantamweight division fighting each other. Whether or not it’ll be a striking matchup, I’m not sure, but we’ll see Friday night.”

‘For family and flag’ is where Brian Moore gets his motivation to compete, you can see the phrase pasted all over his social media account for this fight and for past battles. This Friday night will be no different as the proud Wexford man makes the walk for the twenty-third time of his his professional career.

“I have a fantastic life, I have the best family that a man could ask for, without a doubt. I have a lot of things to be grateful for, but anxiety and other things don’t really care for that a lot of the time. Me speaking to someone and the fact I’m making positive steps on a daily basis, that has made my life even better.”

“I am extremely proud to be an Irishman. If I’m not studying fights, I’m studying Irish history. I could be a historian at this point. To represent the people who fought for us when they didn’t have a choice – I have a choice. I get to walk out in front of 10,000 people and engage in unarmed combat. But these people done it for us, so for us to be Irish fighters after them means the world and I carry that with enormous pride.”

“This is for all the marbles, and you can be damn sure I’m going to fight for every inch in there on Friday night.”

Brian Moore takes on Jornel Lugo in the bantamweight division on Friday, February 25th in Dublin’s 3Arena. The fight will open up the main card and can been seen on Virgin Media Two & Virgin Media Sport at 9pm.

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.