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Kris Moutinho requires return, redemption for O’Malley bout

Kris Moutinho walked out of the cage. Sean O’Malley and Joe Rogan stood within the winner’s circle and pale 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 choice. 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 largely brilliant 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 recognized everywhere in the world.

Within the blink of a watch, he was wildly well-liked – an immediate cult hero of types who confirmed up simply in time for the most important card of the yr, on Worldwide Struggle Week, headlined by Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier.

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

“I’m a really shy, introverted particular person,” Moutinho just lately informed 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 journey 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 an alternative 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 stated. “My life was … I used to be prepared to finish it. I wished it to be over. I used to be executed with preventing. I used to be in my head and all the things and I didn’t wish to do it. I used to be within the worst place I may probably be.

“… I wished to finish all the things. I used to be in a relationship with any individual else and that was going dangerous. Simply all the things 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 Heart 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 value it to him.

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

When it was most tough, Moutinho continued coaching. He confirmed as much as the health club on daily basis to get just a little bit higher, and finally 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 informed MMA Junkie. “If the sparring received minimize quick, 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 type 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 struggle 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 preventing, loving what I do, it took a very long time,” Moutinho stated. “… 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. For those who observe the plan God units out, all the things involves fruition.”

Total, Moutinho describes his state of affairs as comfy and it’s not one thing that may 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 preventing in.

“(I’m) simply having extra religion in myself and never placing as a lot stress on me,” Moutinho stated. “I don’t take into consideration this sport as the best way I did earlier than. I put a lot stress: ‘I’ve to do that. I’ve to be this.’ I’m on the level in my life the place there’s issues way more vital to me. I wish to have a household. I wish to do issues. I’ve a gorgeous girlfriend I wish to have an actual life with. That stuff is far more vital. If I don’t make it preventing, I don’t make it in preventing. 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 might 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 struggle works each for and towards 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 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 struggle may not be a blanket illustration of his talents, it’s largely what’s most remembered.

“The struggle we had was nice,” Moutinho stated. “No matter. Cool. I received my ass kicked, however we placed on a present. It made it a complete lot greater than it might’ve been if I went and received starched in two seconds. It’s what it’s. With that being stated, it nonetheless gave me, despite the fact that I’m who I’m and the eye was lots to cope with and stuff, I’m lots higher now. I’m much more understanding now. … All issues come on either side, there’s good and dangerous to all the things and I admire the chance that I received.”

Jul 10, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Sean OÕMalley lands successful towards Kris Mountinho throughout UFC 264 at T-Cell Area. Necessary Credit score: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports activities

Yet another probability

By means of the O’Malley struggle and all of the dialogue surrounding it, Moutinho didn’t be taught 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 finest.

“I’m not an ideal fighter,” Moutinho stated. “That’s why I feel lots of people like my model much more. It’s the identical cause individuals 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 are imperfect to search for finishes and look to get the struggle going. That’s how I really feel like my model is. I’ll do silly sh*t. That struggle, I made so many silly errors.

“I walked round with my fingers down, simply making an attempt to chase a man down and get a end. I don’t care. That is my model. I’m going to go on the market and attempt to end it all of the occasions. I make errors. For those who 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 the very best reveals doable.”

So now what?

Moutinho admits getting again within the UFC just isn’t a life or dying state of affairs, however he’d like a shot at redemption – and looks 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 presently stays by far his largest declare to fame. However above all else, Moutinho desires redemption and the chance to point out he’s greater than a hard-head.

“I wish to have my probability to get again in there and work my method again and show to people who I’m way more than only a chin to get punched on,” Moutinho stated. “I can take pictures. I can provide pictures again. I can placed on wars. I wish to work my method again to my probability to struggle him once more, if I ever get that chance once more. … So who is aware of? I struggle the very best guys and I’m seeking to attempt to beat all of them.”

You should definitely 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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