It’s always rough when a pay-per-view (PPV) main card fight falls apart in the home stretch, but Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) brass managed to find a replacement days ahead of UFC 264, which takes place this weekend (Sat., July 10, 2021) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where we look at an entertaining Bantamweight stepping in on short notice.
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Record: 9-4 (3 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Ashiek Ajim, Da’Mon Blackshear
Moutinho — a former CES title challenger — enters the Octagon on the heels of two consecutive stoppage wins. The most recent of them came two months ago, when he dominated Andrew Salas en route to a third-round submission.
He steps in for Louis Smolka, who came down with staph, on less than two weeks’ notice.
The Milford, Mass., product is a stalking, high-volume striker, feeding opponents a steady diet of front and round kicks before marching forward with lengthy low-high boxing combinations. Once inside, he does a nice job of mixing in brutal knees, and his impressive cardio lets him push a torrid pace to make up for an overall lack of stopping power.
His overall grappling isn’t particularly eye-catching, but it doesn’t seem like a liability. While he got wrestled to death by Tony Gravely in his aforementioned CES title challenge, his takedown defense is generally decent, as are his own takedowns. He also rides well on top, though he does seem to have a few issues maintaining dominant position.
There’s the good ... now for the bad.
To be frank, Moutinho’s striking defense is atrocious. Whether attacking in a straight line or retreating in a straight line, his head is always high and his hands are always low. The very limited Johnny Campbell dropped him twice, which led to the finish, and Ashiek Ajim nearly scored a walk-off knockout in the first round. As dangerous as Moutinho is when he gets a head of steam going, it’s hard to see him actually getting that far against above-average strikers.
Without the durability to compensate for his inability to protect his chin or the wrestling to take those problems out of the equation, Moutinho looks poised for a short and painful UFC run. That said, he’s always game as hell, so it should be plenty entertaining while it lasts.
Opponent: He’s not so much jumping into the deep end against Sean O’Malley as getting hurled bodily into the Mariana Trench at supersonic speeds. Those defensive lapses of Moutinho’s are simply unacceptable against a power striker of “Suga’s” caliber; in fact, I’ll be impressed if Moutinho lasts more than three minutes.
Tape: His CES and CFFC bouts are on Fight Pass.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 264 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 264: “McGregor vs. Poirier 3” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.