Andre Muniz might not have the buzz yet, but he seems to have the tools necessary to break out in 2022 and become a threat to the UFC middleweight title.
It feels like the Brazilian fighter has been running an undercover operation in the UFC, viciously putting away opposition with pure, elite jiu-jitsu while laying low and keeping under the radar of most casual fans – and maybe even some hardcores.
Muniz (22-4 MMA, 4-0) had a spectacular 2021. Those paying attention know he’s a dark horse in the division and a sneaky player at 185 pounds.
The Brazilian is fairly new to the UFC after a debut in late 2019, just a few months before the pandemic, and he has only four fights in the octagon. However, the 31-year-old as seasoned as they come with nearly 30 pro fights over a decade in the sport.
Muniz earned his ticket into the UFC at Dana White’s Contender Series and followed that up with a decision win in 2019 and a submission victory in 2020, which won him a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.
But what really raised his profile and made him undervalued stock in the fight game was his handiwork in 2021.
Muniz only competed twice in the year, but it was enough to catch trained eyes. In the biggest fight of his career, Muniz took on the legendary Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at UFC 262 in May.
The former Strikeforce champion may have been past his prime, but his three-fight losing skid came against formidable opposition. And despite his age and mileage, Souza always stands as a threat on the ground as a multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion and one of the best grapplers in UFC history.
In Houston, Muniz pulled off what many thought impossible. He broke Souza’s arm and handed the Brazilian legend his first submission defeat in MMA. Souza needed surgery on his arm and later retired from the sport. The win also earned Muniz MMA Junkie’s 2021 Submission of the Year.
Another armbar followed in December at UFC 269, just in case anyone had any questions surrounding Muniz efficacy on the ground. Muniz quickly dispatched a tough Eryk Anders in the first round. He took the fight to the canvas, took Anders’ back and transitioned to the armbar finish.
Entering 2022, Muniz stands with a record of 16-1 in his past 17 fights. He remains unbeaten in the UFC and looks to possess a clear advantage over the entire division in the jiu-jitsu department.
Muniz might not trash talk or have a large social media following, but he certainly has the makings to be an “I-told-you-so” fighter in 2022, making him MMA Junkie’s Under-the-Radar Fighter of the Year.
Andre Muniz def. Ronaldo Souza at UFC 262: Best photos
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