Johnny Munoz

Photo courtesy of Munoz Jr.'s Instagram account

On September 7, King of the Cage will be a family affair for Johnny Munoz Jr. and Alan Martinez

Mixed martial arts was built on the back of one family, the Gracies wanted to honor their family name through Brazilian jiu jitsu. In recent years, the MMA community has seen more families in enter the sport than ever before. The Pettis brothers, Anthony and Sergio and Pitbull brothers (Patricio and Patricky) are arguably the most successful current families competing as they are both top contenders in their respective weight classes, the Shevchenko sisters are not only known for their dancing and creative open workouts but also their prowess in the cage and A.J. and Antonio McKee will be one of the few father/son combos to compete on the same card when they compete at Bellator 228 on September 28. But there is a set of cousins looking to take over the sport and their names are Johnny “Kid Kvenbo” Munoz Jr. and Alan “Superglue” Martinez.

While they may be cousins by blood Munoz and Martinez are truly brothers. At just six years old, Martinez lost his mom who passed away in a car accident and he was raised by his Aunt and Uncle (Munoz Jr.’s parents) and his grandparents. But right before she passed away, Martinez’s mom gave him a gift that has followed him in a positive way throughout his life.

“She got me into jiu jitsu and that was her life purpose.”

But jiu jitsu wasn’t easy for Martinez in the beginning, he remembers one girl consistently tapping him with arm bars and giving up jiu jitsu at one point because of his frustration. However, he wasn’t allowed to miss training and he would sit on the sidelines. In fact, Munoz Jr. thought he was a lost cause because of it.

“It’s a good story, I remember when he first started, I was like man this guy has no hope.”

After a few classes of watching his aunt taught him how to defend an armbar and use one and he ended up tapping out the girl often enough that she left the school.

Unlike Martinez who was offered the opportunity to train jiu jitsu by his mom, training jiu jitsu was mandatory (but competition was not mandatory) for Munoz Jr. as his dad John Munoz Sr. (and owner of CQuence Jiu Jitsu and MMA) explains.

“When they were kids, they had to train, it was non-negotiable, they had to train, but only a few days a week. It was not a debate or can you do this for two months and then stop, they had to train. The reason for that is because I’m a parent. The priority thing for my kids is they have to be educated, go to school, at least graduate high school. I’d prefer them to go to college, Johnny and my daughter did, my nephew doesn’t at the moment right now. School is a priority and you have to train because you have to be educated, you have to be confident and you have to be able to defend yourself.”

Those early lessons have brought forth great results as Munoz Jr. is now 9-0 as a professional with seven finishes and Martinez is 1-0 as an amateur with the win coming via finish. But as much of a family they are, the two fighters have their differences. Munoz Sr. references Martinez’s goofy nature as he helps teach the kids classes and the kids adore him, while Munoz Jr. is a bit more serious and while he likes to hang out with his friends and family, he doesn’t want to hear anyone’s sob story.

Though they are both pursuing their dream of fighting as a career, the cousins chose different paths as backup and post careers. Munoz Jr. is currently enrolled in a masters program while Martinez is an entrepreneur with his own detailing business.

Both also are decorated jiu jitsu competitors, competing all over and against the best of the best. Munoz also happens to be a referee for jiu jitsu tournaments and when Martinez was around 17 and a blue belt, Munoz was scheduled to be the referee for Martinez’s rubber match against Kennedy Cobrinha, son of famed jiu jitsu player Rubens Charles Cobrinha. Munoz decided he wasn’t going to bow out as referee and though he called it fair, he did find a moment to let his cousin know he should be doing better.

“Alan was competing with him and it was a super close match. And they exceeded the time and during the match I was reffing and I couldn’t say anything but I was like, why wasn’t he doing this? I felt like Alan looked like he was doubting himself. So the match ended and they go to overtime which is first point wins. Both their belts were off and so I told the Kennedy kid, tie your belt and I go to Alan and I was like tie your belt and I walked by, I kinda circled around him, I didn’t want anyone to see and I told him “get your head out of your ass.” I told him that, he looked at me, he gave me this weird look and I kinda circled away and hoped no one saw it, then was like f**ck it who cares. They go to overtime and Alan takes him down and wins on points. I think that pumped him up a little bit.”

Munoz also had to pump Martinez up for his MMA debut back in March. Munoz was also supposed to fight on the same card and fight for the King of the Cage 135-pound belt against Tony Gravely but he suffered an injury and had to pull out. But Martinez still made his debut that night and did so with a little bit of encouragement from his cousin.

“He had to get me in my head and go hey, this is your night, your time, you’ve been training so long and this opportunity arose and you’re going to take it.” said Martinez.

For Johnny Munoz it might’ve been an even tougher pill to swallow since he had to miss his fight. He also found it much more stressful to corner his cousin than actually fight.

“I was nervous as hell man in that corner, I’m not gonna lie. I’ve never been so nervous in my life. When I fight I don’t even feel that way. But I was in the corner with my dad and I told my dad, F**ck I’m not cutout for this shit, screw this coaching stuff, just let me get in there. But Alan did his thing, won, looked spectacular, displayed great striking, jiu jitsu, everything.

However, fighting on the same card will finally come to fruition on September 7 when they will both fight for King of the Cage. Munoz will be headlining the bout in his featherweight debut while Martinez will be making his second amateur appearance. But for the cousins, it’s been a long time coming.

“That’s a dream come true. When I was backstage with him and training for all of his fights, I was always thinking it would be awesome to fight on the same night as him but I figured it wouldn’t happen not until the long run but we’re here now.” Said Martinez

Martinez also believes it won’t be too stressful for them to fight on the same card.

“I think we both get pretty nervous but the thing is we are confident in each other’s skill and we’ve seen each other put in all the work so it’s more of a confidence we have in one another.”

For the fights themselves, Munoz will be taking on veteran Ian King as a featherweight. This will be his first fight at the weight class and only because King of the Cage couldn’t find an opponent for him to defend his belt against.

“They were trying to get fights at 135 but it wasn’t working out.”

And he doesn’t expect the results to change from when he was a bantamweight, as always he expects a finish.

“This one’s going to be a knockout.”

Martinez is facing an opponent who wasn’t announced at the time of the interview but he plans on showcasing his growth as an all around fighter.

“I want to show people we aren’t just a grappling gym; we are a striking gym as well.”

Regardless of the results, September 7 will represent a dream come true for Munoz and Martinez.