'Greater than only a chin': Kris Moutinho hopes for UFC return after beating demons, opponents exterior it

by Christina S. Brown
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Kris Moutinho walked out of the cage. Sean O’Malley and Joe Rogan stood within the winner’s circle and light into the background behind him.

Blood was smeared throughout his face from a half-executed try by his cornermen to tidy him up earlier than the official determination. There was no hiding the battle wounds. He wore the 230 strikes he absorbed previous to the late third-round TKO stoppage.

His left cheek sported a gash. A stream of blood dribbled out from his proper nostril. His hair was nonetheless principally vibrant inexperienced, however some strands had turned yellow from the purple that was blended in.

As he walked towards the again, followers applauded, cheered and high-fived him in appreciation. It was unfamiliar territory for Moutinho – tradition shock, actually. Ten days prior, virtually not one of the followers who attended UFC 264 in Las Vegas knew he even existed. Now he was identified all around the world.

Within the blink of an eye fixed, he was wildly well-liked – an on the spot cult hero of types who confirmed up simply in time for the most important card of the 12 months, on Worldwide Combat Week, headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier.

He stepped in on 10 days’ discover to switch Louis Smolka. It was the most important of spotlights for somebody who by no means sought consideration.

“I’m a really shy, introverted individual,” Moutinho not too long ago instructed MMA Junkie. “… I don’t wish to be well-known. I don’t need this consideration on a regular basis and all this different stuff. It was simply hitting me so exhausting and folks saying what they are saying and doing what they do.”

Sean O’Malley and Kris Moutinho

Like most fighters, Moutinho then was given a second UFC bout. He misplaced in 127 seconds to Guido Cannetti.

Shortly thereafter, an e mail from UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby rolled into the inbox of Moutinho’s supervisor, Tyson Chartier. It was the dreaded digital pink slip.

The experience was over. It was again to the regional scene.

For eight-plus years earlier than signing, Moutinho dreamed of the UFC. It started and ended within the span of eight months. He was again on the skin, wanting in, chasing the dream as a substitute of residing it.

Emotions of failure grew, amplified additional by private struggles.

Issues turned darkish, and Moutinho admits his psychological well being reached darkish locations.

“Proper once I received out, I wished to kill myself,” Moutinho mentioned. “My life was … I used to be prepared to finish it. I wished it to be over. I used to be accomplished with combating. I used to be in my head and all the pieces and I didn’t wish to do it. I used to be within the worst place I may presumably be.

“… I wished to finish all the pieces. I used to be in a relationship with any individual else and that was going dangerous. Simply all the pieces else – getting kicked out of the UFC. Getting my ass kicked. Doubting if I used to be even good at what I used to be doing. Simply residing that method.”

Combined-martial arts and UFC fighter Kris Moutinho, 29, of Milford, and his trademark inexperienced head of hair on the Regiment Coaching Middle in Fall River, August 5, 2021.
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Moutinho hopped within the automobile for the two-hour drive forward of him. Even when he solely received a few rounds of sparring in, it was price it to him.

It wasn’t simple or on the spot, however slowly the darkish clouds of his psychological well being cleared by way of persistence and dedication.

When it was most troublesome, Moutinho continued coaching. He confirmed as much as the health club day-after-day to get a bit bit higher, and ultimately joined the New England Cartel.

“We’d ask him, ‘Hey, Rob Font is in camp. Are you able to come spar Saturday night time at 9 p.m.?’ and he’d drive two hours to do two or three rounds with Rob,” Chartier instructed MMA Junkie. “If the sparring received minimize brief, he wouldn’t complain that he drove 4 hours spherical journey to do two rounds of sparring.

“He was all the time like, ‘No matter you want. Thanks for together with me.’ He’s a particularly good teammate. He’s the sort of man you need within the room. He reveals up, works tremendous exhausting, by no means makes excuses, and says thanks afterward.”

Whether or not it was the passage of time or some type of karma, Moutinho turned a nook within the health club. He entered a brand new relationship. Each life and battle issues fell into place. With stability, got here outcomes.

“Assembly the lady I’m with now and simply getting myself again to loving coaching once more, loving combating, loving what I do, it took a very long time,” Moutinho mentioned. “… It took me a very long time for me to simply be comfy with myself and know that is what I used to be born to do and that is what I used to be meant to do. If you happen to comply with the plan God units out, all the pieces involves fruition.”

Total, Moutinho describes his scenario as comfy and it’s not one thing that can now not be dictated by wins and losses in MMA.

He’s comfy doing what he does, no matter what number of eyeballs are on him or what promotion he’s combating in.

“(I’m) simply having extra religion in myself and never placing as a lot strain on me,” Moutinho mentioned. “I don’t take into consideration this sport as the best way I did earlier than. I put a lot strain: ‘I’ve to do that. I’ve to be this.’ I’m on the level in my life the place there’s issues rather more necessary to me. I wish to have a household. I wish to do issues. I’ve a lovely girlfriend I wish to have an actual life with. That stuff is far more necessary. If I don’t make it combating, I don’t make it in combating. Now, it’s simply free. I’m simply going to go till I don’t wish to do that any extra, then I’ll go do one thing else. That’s life. I’m younger sufficient that I can do one thing with my life if this doesn’t work out.”

Double-edged sword

The loss to O’Malley all the time shall be a part of Moutinho’s story – however he plans to restrict it to only a chapter and never the entire story.

The notoriety of the battle works each for and in opposition to Moutinho. Which drive is stronger stays unclear. He’s exponentially extra well-liked than the common fighter with an 0-2 UFC begin and has the road credit score of somebody who walked by way of over 200 strikes from the present UFC bantamweight champion.

The opposite fringe of the sword is the statistics present a lopsided outing. As a lot because the battle won’t be a blanket illustration of his talents, it’s largely what’s most remembered.

“The battle we had was nice,” Moutinho mentioned. “No matter. Cool. I received my ass kicked, however we placed on a present. It made it an entire lot larger than it will’ve been if I went and received starched in two seconds. It’s what it’s. With that being mentioned, it nonetheless gave me, regardless that I’m who I’m and the eye was so much to cope with and stuff, I’m so much higher now. I’m much more understanding now. … All issues come on each side, there’s good and dangerous to all the pieces and I recognize the chance that I received.”

Jul 10, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Sean OÕMalley lands successful in opposition to Kris Mountinho throughout UFC 264 at T-Cellular Enviornment. Obligatory Credit score: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports activities

Another likelihood

By the O’Malley battle and all of the dialogue surrounding it, Moutinho didn’t study a lot about himself or O’Malley. He wasn’t stunned O’Malley went on to win UFC gold and he wasn’t stunned at his personal chin and coronary heart. He’s assured he can compete with the world’s greatest.

“I’m not an ideal fighter,” Moutinho mentioned. “That’s why I feel lots of people like my type much more. It’s the identical cause folks like guys like Max Holloway. It’s not as a result of they’re simply nice fighters. They’re prepared to danger it and go in there and do issues which might be imperfect to search for finishes and look to get the battle going. That’s how I really feel like my type is. I’ll do silly sh*t. That battle, I made so many silly errors.

“I walked round with my arms down, simply attempting to chase a man down and get a end. I don’t care. That is my type. I’m going to go on the market and attempt to end it all of the occasions. I make errors. If you happen to catch me, you catch me. If not, you’re in for it. That is the best way that it’s. I’m simply right here to placed on one of the best reveals doable.”

So now what?

Moutinho admits getting again within the UFC just isn’t a life or dying scenario, however he’d like a shot at redemption – and seems like he’s earned it. He’s gained all 4 fights inside the gap with two TKOs and two submissions.

And who is aware of? Moutinho gained’t rule out a rematch of what at the moment stays by far his largest declare to fame. However above all else, Moutinho needs redemption and the chance to indicate he’s greater than a hard-head.

“I wish to have my likelihood to get again in there and work my method again and show to people who I’m rather more than only a chin to get punched on,” Moutinho mentioned. “I can take pictures. I may give pictures again. I can placed on wars. I wish to work my method again to my likelihood to battle him once more, if I ever get that chance once more. … So who is aware of? I battle one of the best guys and I’m trying to attempt to beat all of them.”

Be sure you go to the MMA Junkie Instagram web page and YouTube channel to debate this and extra content material with followers of blended martial arts.

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