Andre Muniz snapped Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza’s arm in May to score the biggest win of his MMA career, but it didn’t earn him the type of opponent he was hoping for after making such a resounding statement against a jiu-jitsu legend.
He hopes to change that this weekend.
Speaking with MMA Fighting ahead UFC 269, Muniz said his original target was Kevin Holland, but “everybody ranked ahead of me was booked and I needed to fight no matter what,” so he ended up being paired against late replacement Eryk Anders after an initial matchup against former EFC and KSW champion Dricus Du Plessis fell through.
“This win gets me solid in the top-15 of the division,” Muniz said. “If all goes well and I get a great win Saturday, I think you have to beat big-name people. I know Chris Weidman will come back [from injury]. If the UFC wants to give me the opportunity to fight Chris Weidman, a great athlete and a former champion of the division, I think that would be a great fight, something that would be get me next to the top of the division.”
Muniz said preparing for Anders instead of Du Plessis represented a big change in terms of strategy because the two athletes are “completely different” style-wise, but he was nonetheless glad to have a full month to adapt.
Ultimately, the switch changes nothing in terms of Muniz’s longterm plans in the UFC.
“Du Plessis moves more than Anders, who’s stronger and has more punching power and can take a beating,” Muniz said. “We had to change the strategy but the goal remains the same: Submit everyone in the division until we get to [UFC champion Israel] Adesanya.”
Du Plessis has won 14 of his past 16 MMA bouts, while Anders has only been victorious in four of his past 10 inside the octagon.
That said, Muniz sees “Ya Boi” a “more complicated fight” due his level of experience and heart.
“He has fought some big names like Thiago ‘Marreta’ [Santos] and Lyoto Machida, big names in the UFC, and has been tested already,” Muniz said. “Du Plessis hasn’t been tested in the organization before, that’s why he was a better fight.”