We’ve seen many former football players turn to MMA, and a couple basketball players have put their reach to the test, but the MMA/baseball overlap has never really been a notable one unless Kale Moniz can put himself on the map.
The 32-year-old Moniz cut his teeth in team sports before watching one of his football friends get beat up by a BJJ student. In high school, he began training MMA and boxing, but spent the rest of his high school and collegiate eligibility giving the majority of his attention to football and baseball.
After high school, Moniz would go on to play JUCO baseball in Northern California before returning to Hawaii on scholarship. The shortstop and relief pitcher will openly admit that very few things about baseball are able to excite him these days. Even towards the tail end of his collegiate career, he was pretty over the mellow pace to the game, but said the only thing in any sport that could compare to getting in the cage came his freshman year on the diamond.
“I was a closer my freshman year and I threw pretty hard,” Moniz said. “The only thing I can compare to getting into the cage is closing the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the last inning. All eyes are on you. It’s the closest anything gets to being in the ring.”
Before the days of Hawaii ruling MMA, Moniz was like most other kids in the 90s. He loved the legends, the home run hitters and the flamethrowers, but he was walking about the Aloha State with a backwards hat, bat on the shoulder and trying to be like the coolest baseball player of the decade.
“Not all baseball players are fighters, but Nolan Ryan, he threw the ball hard; I bet you he has a mean overhand right,” Moniz laughed. “My all-time favorite would probably be Ken Griffey Jr. when he was in the Kingdome when they had A-Rod and Randy Johnson. I’m a big A’s fan too, so I was big on (Jose) Canseco and a big Mark McGwire fan. Now I love Nolan Arenado, but Griffey was probably my favorite coming up.”
Post-college, Moniz could have possibly played some minor league ball but opted for a career in MMA instead. Pursuing a career in baseball was never really of interest. In fact, in the height of his Griffey fandom he would have still preferred to trade places with Max Holloway for a day.
Griffey is cool. Baseball is cool. But Holloway and MMA are his life.
“I’d trade places with Max. Just to hold the title for that long and make that many defenses, and just look at his fights. It’s just unreal what he’s done for the sport and done for Hawaii. He did it the right way. I guess he talks a little s**t but it’s all respect when he’s up on the podium. My dad always told me you win with respect, you lose with respect.”
These days, the only thing that would tip you off to the 5-1 bantamweight’s former life is his demeanor. Outside of a fight, there’s nothing aggressive about “Money” Moniz. He’s about as hostile as…a baseball player.
“I’m pretty laid back,” Moniz explained. “I like to stay cool and calm under pressure. I’ve noticed when I get too aggressive it’s when mistakes are made. It did work last time, though. My last fight was like 30 seconds, it ended real quick. I was kind of disappointed. I do all this hard work and all this training. For it to end this fast was disappointing, but when you work hard, good things will happen.”
He was a baseball player with the hands of a fighter. He’s a fighter with the demeanor of a baseball player. Whatever it is Kale Moniz is doing, he’s one of the best at it, and he looks to continue his climb in the sport with a strong performance against Carlos Vera at Fury FC 60. Will he play the role of Nolan Ryan or Robin Ventura? We’ll find out April 24.
Catch the return of Kale Moniz at Fury FC 60, Sunday, April 24, ONLY on UFC FIGHT PASS!