Milford's Kris Moutinho makes a name for himself, set to fight Guido Cannetti in UFC match
FALL RIVER — Kris Moutinho is soft spoken. You just wouldn’t know it by looking at him.
In contrast to his unorthodox hair color choices or the brashness of his sport, the fighter from Milford has a gentle soul.
“But when he gets in the cage, that’s where he changes,” said Tommy Teixeira, Moutinho’s coach. “He becomes a savage. I love it.”
What Moutinho loves is fighting.
Not the day-to-day procedures – like working out or cutting weight – that go along with the sport but the actual brawling itself. The cage is where the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and mixed martial arts (MMA) competitor likes to express himself.
It’s where Moutinho can delve into his own fantasy world.
“I become something different. It’s an awakening for me. … It’s something to get me out of my real life,” Moutinho said. “I like the pain of it. I signed up for this.”
Putting on a show
In June, Moutinho quit his job at the Benjamin Moore paint factory in Milford. He had worked there for five years.
“It was a spur-of-the moment idea,” Moutinho, 29, said. “I just wanted to fight. So I talked to my girlfriend and said ‘I have to quit, I have to try to do something else. I've got to commit my whole life to this.’”
A month later, Moutinho found himself on UFC's biggest stage: Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 5-foot-7 fighter wasn’t originally scheduled to be on a UFC 264 card that featured Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor on July 10. But, 11 days prior to fight night, Moutinho was tabbed to replace Louis Smolka in a bantamweight bout against Sean O’Malley.
To make weight at 135, Moutinho dropped nearly 20 pounds.
“I’d never cut weight that fast,” he said. “By the time I was there, I had it in check.”
Moutinho lost to O’Malley in a TKO, but the Milford brawler took home $75,000 for being part of the “Fight of the Night” at T-Mobile Arena.
“It’s not forever money,” Moutinho said. “I have to start figuring out how I can turn this into more money before I start buying cars and Gucci flip flops.”
In the short-notice fight, Moutinho withstood 230 total strikes before referee Herb Dean stopped the bout with 27 seconds left.
Mountinho gained respect throughout the UFC community and a huge following on social media.
“I can’t think of many people who would capitalize on that opportunity like Kris did,” said Brian Raposo, Moutinho’s striking coach . “It was just a great experience and he went out there and put on a show.”
“It’s been insane,” Teixeira said. “He went from only us knowing how badass he was to everybody in the world knowing and it’s about time.”
The soulless king
On his Instagram page , Moutinho writes “9-5 professional ufc fighter” and “hop on the train” in his biography. As for his handle, it reads: kris_is_soulless.
The name stems from Shang Tsung, a fictional character from the popular “Mortal Kombat” video game. A villain, Tsung is most commonly known for his ability to absorb the souls of defeated warriors.
Tsung serves as inspiration for Moutinho when he steps inside the cage.
“He’s the ‘Soulless King,’ he’s stealing people’s souls and that’s where I got it from,” Moutinho said.
“Kris doesn’t back down. He only goes forward,” Raposo said. “He’s very aggressive and he’s actually very well-rounded. He’s got great wrestling and great jiu-jitsu skills but he likes to wear people down. He sort of breaks people’s will.”
During COVID-19 quarantine, Moutinho was bored – he couldn’t fight anyone amid coronavirus concerns. So he decided to dye his hair.
First he went blond, and then he went blue, pink and purple before trying almost all the other colors of the rainbow. During his primetime UFC fight in July, Moutinho rocked a neon-green hair color.
“It ended up sticking,” said Moutinho of coloring his hair.
And that’s what Moutinho hopes to do in the UFC. Stick.
The 2011 Milford High graduate has a four-fight contract with the company as his second bout is scheduled for March 12, 2022, when Moutinho will face Guido Cannetti on UFC Fight Night.
“Right now I’m just focused on getting ready for March 12 and showing the world who I am and that I belong in the UFC,” Moutinho said. “It’s just a blessing from God that I made it in and now it’s time to stay in.”
In order to stick around the cages of UFC, Moutinho will need help from his coaches – both current and past. He’s already earned their respect.
“He has always been a tough, quiet kid with a lot to prove,” Milford High wrestling coach PJ Boccia said. “He worked harder than most and was always looking to improve. He is one of the toughest wrestlers to come out of Milford and it is great seeing him compete on the national stage.”
“I’m excited for his future in the sport,” Raposo said.
“I think the sky is the limit with him,” Teixeira said. “I think he could hold a title in the UFC. I absolutely think that.”
Not bad for a soft-spoken fighter from Milford who was mixing paints for a living just five months ago.
Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.
This article originally appeared on The Milford Daily News: Milford's Kris Moutinho makes a name for himself, set to fight Guido Cannetti in UFC match