Moutinho has been given the opportunity to face “Suga” after Louis Smolka withdrew from the card with a staph infection. Despite the likes of Ricky Simon, Brian Kelleher and Ray Borg requesting the fight over social media, Moutinho was able to make 135 pounds while the likes of Simon couldn’t.
Moutinho has fought for highly regarded regional promotions like CES MMA and Cage Fury. He boasts a 9-4 MMA record and has won his last two bouts via second-round stoppages. Having been working 80 hours a week in a paint factory just last month, Moutinho will now fight on MMA’s biggest stage in front of 20,000 fans.
But despite landing a main card slot against one of the UFC’s hottest prospects, Moutinho admits that he wasn’t expecting anything to come of throwing his name into the hat to face O’Malley.
Speaking with MMA Fighting during UFC 264 media day, the 28-year-old said that his coach had suggested making himself an option just in case.
“It was a surprise to me as well. I’m just as thrown as a loop as you guys. So it’s crazy. I love it. My coach, when the sweepstakes came out, the Sean O’Malley sweepstakes, he was like, ‘It’s a long shot, man, you want to just throw your name in? And I was like, ‘Why not? Yeah, let’s do it. Couple days went by, wasn’t hearing anything, I was like, eh, probably not gonna happen. Then he was like, ‘OK, you made it past the first round, man. They took your name. They’re gonna look at it,” Moutinho said.
The American-born bantamweight also revealed that he didn’t initially find out that he’d been selected for the fight from the UFC. Instead, Moutinho heard it first through messages from online trolls.
“Within 15 minutes, I was getting DMs from random people telling me I’m gonna get knocked out and get beat up. And I was like, ‘Oh, man, what are you guys talking about?’ Five minutes after that, he called me back and was like, ‘Yeah, man. We got it. Just get ready, cut the weight, and let’s go show the world who I am.’”
The card, which will be held inside a sold out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, is set to be one of the biggest events of the year and is expected to record the UFC’s third highest live gate number in history, behind only UFC 205 and UFC 229. If anyone needed any convincing of the PPV’s magnitude, the list of celebrities set to attend the event provides some context.
Do you think Kris Moutinho can upset Sean O’Malley at UFC 264?