UFC 265 is on the horizon as heavyweights collide for the UFC interim heavyweight championship on Aug.7 from Houston, Texas. The fight card was initially scheduled for fourteen bouts. However, with Amanda Nunes testing positive for COVID-19 and being forced to withdraw from her title fight with Julianna Peña, the schedule now drops to thirteen bouts in total. Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane take center stage on the night. The co-main event features an all Brazilian clash between Jose Aldo and Pedro Munhoz. There are several notable names among the action: Vicente Luque, Michael Chiesa, Tecia Torres, Angela Hill, Yadong Song, and Rafael Fiziev.
On the conversation of notable names, I enjoyed catching up with a man who opens up the fight card on Aug.7, Johnny Munoz, who is hunting to make his name a notable one. Munoz will be eager on finding himself back in the win column after suffering the first defeat of his career against Nate Maness on his UFC debut.
Johnny Munoz (10-1) is coming off the first loss of his professional career after a phenomenal ten-fight win streak. Munoz stepped in to face Nate Maness precisely a year ago, in under 24-hours notice after Maness’s original opponent Ray Borg fell through. Munoz gave it his all in a hard-fought battle with zero preparation, which resulted in “Kid Kvenbo” dropping a unanimous decision loss.
Although tasting defeat, don’t let that fool you on the skill level of Munoz. On the build-up to his UFC debut, the twenty-eight-year-old recorded eight first-round finishes. With more than twenty-four hours to prepare this time, I expect a fierce and fiery Johnny Munoz at UFC 265.
Jamey Simmons (7-3) is also coming off a debut loss last year at UFC Vegas 13. Simmons was welcomed to the promotion by Giga Chikadze and finished in round one after Chikadze landed his signature head kick which was followed up by ground and pound. Talk about jumping straight into the deep end. Despite that, Simmons is a dangerous opponent in his own right, with four first-round finishes to back that up. “The Afro Samurai” has showcased he’s capable of finishing fights standing, as well as on the mat.
Interview with Johnny Munoz
We are ten days out from fight day. Talk to me about how you are feeling ahead of Aug.7.
Johnny Munoz – “I feel great both physically and mentally. I’m always in the gym training and have the right people around me. I have to go out there and show everyone what I’ve been working on.”
How is the weight coming off thus far? Are you on track? Do you usually suffer from tough weight cuts for Bantamweight?
Johnny Munoz – “Weight cut is never easy, but it’s my job to make weight, and I will make weight. The body is feeling good, but I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t craving pizza, tacos, and burgers, haha.”
Staying on the bantamweight division. Did you catch the main event between TJ and Cory at the weekend? Can you tell me your thoughts on that fight briefly? Do you think the judges got it correct?
Johnny Munoz – “It was a super close fight. I feel it could’ve gone either way, but TJ was the more aggressive fighter. The judges suck regardless, but it also depends on how you’re scoring the fight. Some guys look at the damage, some not so much. That’s why the rules need to be cleaned up, so everyone is on the same page.”
When I speak to fighters for the first time, and they are new to the promotion. I often like to bring it back to the start and get to know a bit about them. Can you tell me how you found MMA and why was this sport a path you decided to go down?
Johnny Munoz – “My journey starts back from when I was five years old doing BJJ. My dad was my instructor. I hated doing BJJ, but my dad made me do it to develop confidence, and so I could defend myself if kids tried to bully me. It was hard to get out of it, so I had no choice but to train. I always went with my dad when he watched UFC/Pride events at his friend’s house, and I remember seeing Quinton “Rampage” Jackson slam people, and I was hooked from there. I visualized myself as an adult fighting in front of a crowd. It was all a blessing in disguise.”
You suffered your first career loss last time out on your debut. With some time to reflect on that fight, what do you think went wrong?
Johnny Munoz – “I feel there were lots of factors that contributed to that. I had a day notice. Everything happened so fast. No crowd was weird, and judges. It wasn’t my best performance, but I felt I did enough to win. I can’t change that now since it’s the past, but that’s why August 7th, I will show what I can do.”
After tasting defeat for the first time, is there any mental hurdles you’ve had to overcome or do you have a positive approach to it?
Johnny Munoz – “No man. My mentality is the same, and I have grown from it. I’ve lost in BJJ competitions. Every day in life, people lose something. To me, you have to be willing to accept it and move on and grow from it. During this pandemic, people have lost so much, but what are you going to do? Sit there and cry so people can feel sorry for you? Fuck that. Get up and ride again.”
Who’s been your main training partner’s in camp for your upcoming fight?
Johnny Munoz – “For this fight camp my key training partners have been my brother Alan Martinez, Freddie Johnson, Alex “Coyote” Gonzalez, and Erick Villalpando, Brandon Moreno, Cristian Quiñonez, Massio Fullen, Edgar Chairez, and Marcelo Rojo. Also, everyone over at my gym CQuence and Entram gym in Tijuana, have helped me a lot.”
You’re at the beginning of your UFC career, and I look forward to watching you progress. I want to have some fun with these questions. Who would be your dream matchup in the UFC, and why?
Johnny Munoz – “My dream matchup in the UFC would be to fight them bums in the crowd who talk shit during the fights while drinking a beer. That would be something.”
What do you feel you bring to the bantamweight division?
Johnny Munoz – “I know I bring a complete skill set these guys haven’t seen before. I’m a complete fighter, not just a grappler or a striker. I can take the fight anywhere and dominate. “
Onto your opponent on the night in Jamey Simmons. What’s your thoughts on the match-up when it was offered to you, and do you feel this is a fight that suits you to get your first UFC win under your belt?
Johnny Munoz – “When my manager told me that we were fighting Jamey Simmons, I liked the matchup. It suits me well he’s a wrestler with an overhand and an afro. I’m going to run my game on Simmons. It’s going to be a bad night for him.”
Simmons had a tough debut himself against Giga Chikazde. With that being said, what do you expect Simmons to bring to the table on Aug.7?
Johnny Munoz – “He’s going to come in desperate for a win. He got a little extra calcium build-up from that head kick. I’m expecting a tough Jamey Simmons on August 7th. It’s okay. I’ll be ready!”
In terms of strengths and weaknesses, have you identified them in Simmon’s game? If so, what are they?
Johnny Munoz – “I’ve identified his strength as wrestling with an overhand. His weakness I noticed he’s stiff with no movement.”
Lastly, can I get an official fight prediction from you?
Johnny Munoz – “My prediction, I see myself finishing him either with strikes or submission. It’s going to be a great night for my team and me. That’s why you need to tune in on August 7th to see legal violence.”
Featured Image Credits to: Getty Images