The UFC middleweight championship stayed in the hands of Brazilians for many years after Anderson Silva claimed the title that once belonged to Murilo Bustamante.
Now rising 185-pounder Andre Muniz wants to bring that belt back to where he believes it belongs.
Speaking on this week’s episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocacao Franca, “Sergipano” acknowledged that he’ll likely still be at least one win away from a title shot after his upcoming UFC clash with Uriah Hall on April 16, but that when the time comes, he plans to live up to the history already laid out by his countrymen and capture the belt that helped make “The Spider” one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
” “I will tell you, men, Anderson is unbeatable,” Muniz stated. Anderson Silva is a great fighter. It’s an international belt. The first Brazilian [UFC] champion, Murilo Bustamante, and Anderson Silva after that. Whether it’s me or another Brazilian, it’s a belt that belongs to us Brazilians.”
The UFC middleweight belt is currently held in New Zealand by Israel Adesanya. Adesanya won his first fight with Silva via decision in 2019.. Adesanya has since gone on to win five straight middleweight title bouts, culminating in his most recent title defense at UFC 271, which saw “The Last Stylebender” defeat Robert Whittaker via decision.
But Adesanya is fast running low on challengers, and that could play into Muniz’s favor.
“My goal is to enter the top 10 now,” Muniz said. Muniz stated, “If I climb another step, I will start to see the belt [in the horizon].”
Muniz is 4-0 so far in the UFC with submissions over the legendary Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and, most recently, Eryk Anders at UFC 269. Hall has never been submitted in a professional MMA bout, however “Sergipano” aims to change that come April 16.
“I’d be lying if I told you I don’t want to [submit him], right?” Muniz said with a laugh. I want it, of course. It would be another submission to my record, adding more [buzz] to my hype towards the belt. We know that a fight could go in the exact same manner as it did for him recently, and to a decision. I am preparing myself mentally to be ready for any eventuality.
“But the thing is, I only need one opening. If he gives me one opportunity — if you look at my recent statistics, I’m not wasting positions.”
Hall was on a four-fight winning streak over stars like Silva and Chris Weidman prior to a decision setback against Sean Strickland this past July. When Muniz looks at the film, he’s seen changes in the way Hall performs compared to his early UFC and TUF days.
“He used to come out more [aggressively] and give more openings,” Muniz said of Hall. “It’s hard to take someone down when they don’t expose themselves too much. He’ll force me to go out there in the first round and trade on the feet, close the distance, and know the right moment to get near. To surprise him, we’re watching him closely, both his movement and ground defense. We’ll find an opening and work on that. I’m sure we’ll impose our game on April 16 and come out with the victory.
“If you watch his fight with ‘Cara de Sapato’ [Antonio Carlos Jr.], someone with an excellent level on the ground, a jiu-jitsu world champion, he simply survived there, holding his arm,” Muniz added. He did not do anything on the ground. He just does an anti-jiu-jitsu, trying to defend and survive. But I think my jiu-jitsu is different than many people in my division. I really go for the submission at all times.
“He’s never trained or fought someone that fights the way I fight. I’m in constant evolution. Knowing he will not take me down in this fight, I can bring more of my Muay Thai boxing and Muay Thai to the table and add something new to this division. I will surprise many .”