Johnny “Kid Kvenbo” Munoz’s plan worked, but not exactly how he had planned. After earning his master’s degree in science for public health from California State University San Bernardino, Munoz’s goal was to get into the UFC, whether it was through the Contender Series or straight through to the big show. That is what happened, but as it is the year 2020, it had to be done in the most difficult way possible.
Johnny Munoz was at his family’s martial arts school, C-Quence Jiu Jitsu in Norco, California about to teach a class on Thursday, August 6 when his phone rang. It was his manager, Jason House of Iridium Sports. House had news and Munoz had to get moving.
“So he caught me off guard, I was like man, ok, when do we have to leave and he was like you have to leave right now. I was like should I call my coaches; I’m not going to just go out there by myself, I need to make sure everyone is on board when we do this whole thing. One of my coaches was saying he couldn’t make it. I had to make a phone call and make a change, so we had to do all that and I called him (Jason House) back and was like okay I think we are all good. I asked what’s the weight and he said we can do 145, I was like ok that’s perfect. It might be tough to make 135, it’s going to be real tough. So I went ahead and did that and we got on the road and we’re on the 15 north towards Vegas. I got a few things and I had to pull my Superglue, my cousin Alan (Alan Martinez is also an amateur fighter and well known jiu jitsu competitor) off the mat, I was like stop rolling, we gotta go. He’s like what do you mean? I said I’ll tell you later, just get all your shit, we gotta go. That was it, we were on the road.”
The fight wasn’t even confirmed when Munoz headed to Vegas. He only told a few people that it was possibly happening. However, on his way over, the details were figured out and the fight was on. He made weight and was all set to fight Nate Maness but just becoming a UFC fighter wasn’t enough for Munoz, he was determined to win.
“I was going in like I’m winning this fight, like I know I can win this, I can beat this guy. I’m not like these other fighters, there are so many fighters who will take the last-minute fight and they don’t give a shit if they lose. Obviously, they want to go in there and win, but if they lose, they’ll get KO’d or beat up the whole fight and they’re still happy just because they made it to the UFC. For me, I didn’t react that way, I wasn’t happy. It’s cool that I’m in the UFC but I’m there to win, I love winning. I was put here to win. I don’t want to just be in the UFC or say I’m in the UFC and not win. I probably gotta earn the win to say I’m part of these guys.”
When many make it to the UFC, they say welcome to the big show and the bright lights and for Munoz, the biggest change in fighting for the big show was the bright lights.
“What I noticed was the lighting, the lighting was super bright, when I was fighting for King of the Cage it seemed a little darker.
The first round under the bright lights went as well as Munoz could have dreamed of. He was able to take Maness down towards the end of the round and work his way to preferable positions and arguably could’ve earned a stoppage. However, he did foul Maness with two groin strikes. The second round was closer as Munoz struggled to get Maness. In the third round, Munoz fouled Maness again with a groin strike and had a point taken away. When the fight was taken away, Munoz’s face showed his frustration. He felt that Maness was using the system for his advantage, Munoz doesn’t believe Maness was playing the system for Munoz to lose points but rather to rethink his strategy cause the fight wasn’t going his way.
“I was like man this guy is playing the card right now, like props to him, fighters do it. I don’t blame him, he can use it in your favor by any means, I guess do it. It wasn’t in my favor so I was frustrated by that. He kneed me in the nuts a couple of times too and I didn’t say nothing. I was just like man you’re going to take a point away. I think one time I was like; Dominick Cruz is the commentator and I was like Cruz check that replay. I was just shouting off; I was frustrated right there.”
After Johnny Munoz had the point taken away from him, he was determined to take Maness down to make up ground for losing the point but struggled to do so. Munoz ended up losing the bout via unanimous decision, the result was disappointing but he is looking forward to improving upon the performance. He plans on working on his set ups for his takedowns and maintaining his composure so he isn’t affected as much in situations that happened when the point was taken away.
“Not being so anxious, I should’ve set them up better, I feel like for me that was the big thing, the set ups. If the set ups were better it would be no problem. Like I said, when I had two warnings for the groin shots, I shouldn’t have let that get in my head. I think that’s what made me too anxious for the take down.
“For me, like I said I’m disappointed, but I’m very stoic on my approach to things, I focus on what I can control and what I can control is the future, my next fight, how I can get the w, how I’m going to perform and react to situation. That’s the thing I’m most focused on. Obviously it sucked to not get the w but I’ve got to focus on what’s next.”
Munoz is enjoying a bit of relaxation since he is coming off of a few suspended fight camps. Initially he was supposed to fight in March. Then he was booked as a last-minute fight replacement in April for a card that never came to fruition and then consistently trying to stay ready for a short minute replacement fight or a Contender Series bout. He says ideally he would return in October with a full camp to train and move down to the bantamweight division.