Albert Morales has two wins in Bellator and is a six-fight veteran of the UFC, but if you ask the 28-year-old Belizean bantamweight with 15 career appearances in the cage, he’s both a rookie and a veteran.
The four-year pro Morales (9-6-1) will get a second shot at the vacant LXF bantamweight title when he takes Ryan Lilley (10-5) on Nov. 15 as the co-main event for LXF 4 at the Burbank Marriott Convention Center.
Morales will look to build on momentum following a first-round finish in his last fight when he steps in the cage against Lilley, who’s alternated wins and losses in his last four contests.
"I’m on a mission to get back to the top like I was at UFC, and the best organization to be on that journey with right now is LXF," said Morales. "The faster I get that belt, the faster I can represent myself to the fullest. I’m hyped on that. It’s all about getting the victories. That’s all I care about. My fan base has grown through LXF, so I’m hoping for another viral finish so I can make a bigger name for myself."
Morales’ last fight at LXF 3 was held Sept. 21 on Belizean Independence Day. That night, he dominated Ron Scolesdang with a first-round knockout. It was his first bout under the new moniker "The Belizean Warrior." Morales, who’s mom is from Belize, said he reconnected and was reinvigorated by roots, especially after a summer visit in Belize to hold MMA seminars this year.
"It was an honor to win that night. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience," said Morales. "I’m training really hard for Ryan Lilley. He’s a beast. I have to be ready and fire on all cylinders. I’m going to be ready. He’s been fighting for a long time. He’s been a veteran before I even fought as an amateur. He has a ton of experience as a wrestler and trains under striking coach Bas Rutten. He’s a tough well-rounded competitor."
Morales is preparing for Lilley by training out of Blackhouse MMA and is 2-1 under his new team. The lone loss came to current LXF featherweight champion Alfred Khashakyan via first round knockout in May.
The fight never hit the ground, which followed the same script of his UFC career (1-4-1) in which the jiu jitsu fighter failed to score a takedown and got happy with his hands instead.
"After I got my first KO, my mistake was that I got addicted to them. I kind of lost my love for the ground, and it’s funny because jiu-jitsu is my strong point. I want to be on the ground. I’m a shark down there waiting to eat," said Morales.
"I’m a rookie and veteran. I’m still learning and growing, even with my experience. It’s a gift and a curse that I got to the UFC so fast. I went through my growing pains at UFC. People underestimate me now, but I believe I’m the most well-rounded bantamweight in the world. This time we have more experience. We built the foundation, and now have it figured out. If I get Ryan to the ground, I’m going to put him to sleep."