On Saturday night, former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar returns to make his long-awaited bantamweight debut, Where he will take on number five ranked contender Pedro Munhoz. This fight night card will take place at the UFC apex in the smaller 25-foot octagon. I will go into more detail on how this specifically affects the main event throughout the preview. It is worth noting that both men have competed in the same sized octagon multiple times in their UFC careers.
|Pedro Munhoz||Tale of the Tape||Frankie Edgar|
|135 pounds||Weight||135 pounds|
|65 inches||Reach||68 inches|
The last time Pedro Munhoz stepped inside the octagon was in June of 2019 against top contender Aljamain Sterling. Who beat him by unanimous decision putting an end to a three-fight win streak for the Brazilian. At 33 years of age, Munhoz will be looking to get back in the win column in order to ignite another run towards the title. In addition to the fact that Edgar isn’t ranked and has not fought in the division before. A win over the former champion would be a big statement to indicate that he is back on the right track.
Munhoz has had 13 fights inside the UFC over a 6-year stretch within the promotion going 8-4-1 consistently against top competition. He has progressed visibly in his career. He has gone from a very durable yet basic striker with an excellent ground game. To a fundamentally sound and skilled striker who has the ground game. Not to mention his extreme toughness to fall back on when he needs. He has never been finished. In addition, He is also known to have an iron chin with seemingly a love for getting into brawls.
His best win came at UFC 235 where he knocked out former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt In the first round. After drawing the slick striker into a slugfest which is something he knows no one will better him in. A lot of people put that finish down to Cody’s recklessness and while Garbrandt did show a lack of fight IQ in particularly the last minute of that fight. It was Munhoz who made it his type of fight and landed the perfect shot as Cody left himself open which he deserves a lot of credit for.
Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar has been facing adversity his whole career inside the octagon. Whether that’s through surviving three knockdowns and going to a majority draw against Gray Maynard at UFC 125 or fighting for years against much larger opponents every time out. Here is what should be the final stretch of his career. He will be fighting in what many have always thought to be his natural weight class in the 135lb division. I don’t believe that the new weight cut will affect his visibly declining durability in any way and I believe the tests for him will all come inside the octagon.
The clear benefit of moving down after so many years of success against larger opponents is that theoretically. He will be able to handle bantamweights easier specifically in the wrestling department as well as a drop off in power for his opponents. The drawback to it is that his opponents will be able to match his speed which is something that overwhelmed lightweights and featherweights. I believe this will be the determining factor in Saturday’s fight.
The oddsmakers currently have Edgar as a 2.88 underdog while Munhoz sits as a fairly big favorite at 1.44. I believe this is a pretty accurate assessment of both their chances of winning this fight. As I mentioned previously Frankie’s main route to victory against the 135lb contenders should be to overwhelm and manhandle fighters in the wrestling exchanges. However, unfortunately for ‘The Answer’ the bantamweight divisions top 15 is home to some excellent grapplers and scramblers who can nullify this with either wrestling of their own or submission threat.
In this case, it’s the latter. Munhoz has one of the best guillotines in all of MMA. Although Edgar is a great grappler in his own right with the aforementioned experience with handling bigger men. I see nothing but trouble for him if he shoots on Munhoz, especially out in the open. If he is looking to grapple on Saturday night he must force Munhoz onto the cage which in the smaller octagon will be easier in theory, and grind his opponent out staying away from neck attacks. Munhoz won’t just grab the neck for the submission. He will look to sweep from it as well which again could cause problems for Edgar.
On the feet, there are two main keys to victory for each fighter to simplify the clash in striking styles. For Edgar he has to stay very light on his feet, cutting angles while throwing combinations. The reason for this is to nullify the forward pressure and basic footwork of Munhoz who will wait until you sit down on a punch to plant his feet and let off his own strikes. The other key for Frankie is to hit the body. This is something several opponents have had success against Munhoz as it wears on his gas tank. In addition, it makes him less aware of what’s coming at him as opposed to someone who headhunts against him as Garbrandt did. It is a classic tactic in combat sports to attack the body against durable pressure fighters. Edgar must employ this strategy from the very start of the fight.
For Pedro Munhoz, his two clear keys to victory are first to initiate the kicking game when Edgar is bouncing out of range trying to avoid a wild boxing exchange. Munhoz has an excellent teep kick to the body. It is unique in the way it comes low from his hip and it has a tremendous amount of snap behind it. He also has good leg attacks through going to the ever-growing in popularity calf kick, good body kicks, and decent high kicks to set his lower body attacks up.
I expect Pedro to start chopping that lead leg of Edgar’s up early taking away his movement to a point where he can walk into boxing range and sit down on his punches in an attempt to crack Edgar’s chin. This brings me to the second key for Munhoz. Which is actually more of a specific weapon than a strategy or tactic.
Here I am referring to the uppercut. Both of Frankie’s knockout/TKO losses have come to uppercuts and of course, part of what made him so vulnerable to this punch throughout his past has been the fact he is fighting much taller opponents. However, I still believe he is susceptible to it in this matchup too where both men are of equal height. Frankie has a clear habit of dipping his head usually when he is expecting a wide hook to come. No matter how Munhoz gets into a pure boxing exchange the story will still be the same, he will sit down on his shots and throw heavy hands relying on his ridiculously good chin to better his opponents. I anticipate that he has been drilling left hook/uppercut combinations in preparation for this fight ready to unleash in the pocket against Edgar.
If so, I feel if this sequence plays out he will definitely get the knockout finish or grab the neck as Edgar drops.
Ultimately, I predict a finish for Pedro Munhoz here. Edgar has to fight a near-perfect fight for possibly 25 minutes. In a brand new weight class on the latter end of his career to pick up the win. However, Munhoz needs one exchange. To make this fight his and he is evidently more than capable of doing that in my opinion.
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