Sometimes, when you win, you actually lose, and other times, when you lose, you really win.
This old adage above is most applicable to everybody’s favorite new UFC fighter, Kris Moutinho who, the UFC has just announced, is set to return to the Octagon in late October to fight Aaron Phillips.
Generally, the return to the cage of an 0-1 fighter in the UFC might stir a collective slow clap coupled with a few groans from the MMA community. But news of Moutinho making his return to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night: Paulo Costa vs. Marvin Vettori on October 23 has everyone hyped, including the team here at Fight Bananas.
Why all the hype about Moutinho’s return?
Kris Moutinho stepped in on short notice to fight “Sugar” Sean O’Malley at UFC 264 after Lois Smolka went down injured a week before the bout.
Make no mistake about it, O’Malley won the fight in a quite dominant fashion, connecting with 233 strikes over the course of three five-minute rounds. The onslaught included 177 punches directly to Moutinho’s head, which Sugar beat to a pulp by the end of the third. No arguments whatsoever with O’Malley’s record-breaking performance at UFC 264 – the kid may as well have ‘future bantamweight champion’ tattooed on his forehead at this stage.
For Moutinho, it was a true baptism of fire – no doubt about it. But the guts and grit the former CES & CFFC fighter showed during the fight were absolutely unparalleled. He absorbed everything O’Malley had to offer (which was A LOT!).
Moutinho was undeterred. He kept coming forward. He did land some shots of his own that definitely caught the Arizona native’s attention. And, he was hugely unfortunate not to see the end of the fight and the judges’ scorecards.
To everyone’s surprise, fight referee Herb Dean strangely decided Moutinho had seen enough punishment with 27 seconds left on the fight clock in the final round.
In truth, it was a robbery. We all know an MMA referee’s number one priority is to protect the fighter – that’s a given. But with 27 seconds left, and when Moutinho was still protecting himself (kinda)!? Well, the majority of fans in attendance that night felt that the kid deserved to go out on his sword. The boos that rang out through the arena were testament to that.
O’Malley may have won, but Moutinho at least deserved to lose on his own terms. There are two fights going on inside the Octagon at any one time: there’s the duel with the opponent and the internal war of attrition – Moutinho won the second fight easily and, in our opinion at least, deserved more from the Gold Standard (Dean).
So, in a nutshell, that’s why MMA fans are so pumped to see Moutinho back in action. The kid’s a warrior; he’s got good stand-up; he wants to bang; possesses the heart of a lion, and we all want to see him chowing down on ice cream at 1-1 after being denied a moral victory in his last fight.
What did Kris Moutinho say about the stoppage vs. O’Malley?
In an interview with MMA Junkie Radio a few days after the fight, Moutinho commented on the stoppage:
“There was 30 seconds left, let me go out on my shield. I was still standing, I was still throwing punches, so yeah I’m a little upset.
“If it would’ve gone to decision, I still would’ve lost the fight, so it doesn’t really matter. A loss is a loss. I’m a very competitive person. Everyone is talking to me like, ‘It was 10 days notice, don’t be upset about the loss,’ but I’m always upset about the loss. I’m a man and I got pride. It hurts to lose, I wanted his head on my wall. But I’ll go back, get better and the next guy is going to have to pay for it.”
Kris Moutinho vs. Aaron Phillips
With the collective will of the UFC fanbase behind him, Kris Moutinho will have the perfect chance to rebound from the tough O’Malley loss against Aaron Phillips at UFC Fight Night: Costa vs. Vettori on October 23.
Moutinho will have to be at his best though: Phillips notched up five straight wins prior to joining the UFC. The former WFC star did lose in his UFC debut to Jack Shore last year. But Phillips is a well-rounded Octagon technician himself and, with his own place on the UFC roster likely to be in jeopardy should he incur two straight Ls, he’s unlikely to be in a charitable mood.