Their previous bout took place in 2015, where Rivera won a split decision over Munhoz in his native Brazil. The rematch was originally set to take place at UFC 258, however, was rescheduled to UFC Vegas 20 after Rivera tested positive for COVID-19.
“The Young Punisher” (18-5 1 NC, 8-5 1 NC UFC) is highly regarded as one of the most complete fighters at bantamweight, which is a huge compliment considering how stacked the division is.
He has three split decision losses to Frankie Edgar, John Dodson, and his opponent at UFC Vegas 20, Jimmie Rivera. All of these fights listed could have been scored in his favor, and we would be talking about a 21-2 fighter right now!
Instead, we are looking at a record of 18-5 and he may be one redemption win over Rivera away from getting back into the title conversation.
The experience gained from recent losses to the division champion Petr Yan, Sterling, and Marlon Moraes will prove valuable when enters the octagon at UFC Vegas 20 looking to get a winning streak going.
Rivera doesn’t quite possess the power of Munhoz, but the Brazilian will know not to underestimate his power having been rocked by his heavy left hand in their last meeting.
It is the accuracy, speed, and combinations put forward which leaves many unable to cope with the confident bantamweight. This was seen during the first round of their first meeting where Rivera landed over twice the number of strikes through the first five minutes.
Pedro Munhoz vs Jimmie Rivera 1
Rivera entered their first meeting as a slight underdog despite being on a 15-fight winning streak. While Munhoz entered as a favorite looking to make it two wins in a row following his UFC debut loss to fellow Brazilian Raphael Assuncao.
Throughout the first round, Rivera looked the more confident fighter on his feet as he threw a combination of strikes for every one Munhoz threw at him. It was the Brazilian who obtained the most significant strikes of the round, however, including an elbow which wobbled the American late on in the first.
Early on during the second, Rivera had Munhoz desperately looking for a takedown as the 31-year-old hurt him with the powerful left hand he has in his locker. Rivera piled on the pressure, looking to obtain the exclamation mark victory, yet Munhoz survived the flurry of strikes coming his way to this time rock his opponent. Landing a violent right hand, not once, but twice during the next couple of minutes. Both fighters would eventually tire out to bring it down to the third and final round.
In what was a closely contested fight, it was the last round which was the decider as both fighters looked to leave it all inside the octagon. Fatigue was a factor as they struggled to put in the same activity as was consistent through the first and second. Rivera looked to have gained a second wind as he began to let his hands fly with time ticking away, continuing to unleash and land powerful punches as Munhoz walked him down. Ultimately, it was the activity of Rivera which convinced two of the judges to score it in his favor as he walked away with the biggest win of his career.
Heading into the rematch at UFC Vegas 20, neither fighter has much momentum behind them. Munhoz is coming off a controversial split-decision loss to Edgar. While Rivera’s last time out earned a unanimous decision victory over bantamweight prospect Cody Stamann. Before that, however, he was on a two-fight losing skid with losses to Sterling and Yan, who will be fighting for the title at UFC 259.
Rivera is the slight favorite entering UFC Vegas 20 and rightly so considering he won the first fight and will likely be the most confident entering the rematch. The 31-year-old should be the more active fighter in the standup between the two at UFC Vegas 20. While Munhoz will be relying on his power to do the work as it did during their first clash where he caught the American several times.
Rivera’s impressive takedown defense, which sits at 92%, should mean he keeps this fight where he wants it in the standup and be able to dictate the tempo. While for Munhoz, he will be hoping the leg kicks cause Rivera problems as it did against Edgar previously and in their 2015 bout where his array of kicks kept the American guessing his every move.
Pedro Munhoz vs Jimmie Rivera 2 Prediction
This fight is arguably the most balanced fight at UFC Vegas 20, and the odds showcase that with Rivera the slight favorite at -150.
The pair are evenly matched with similar traits. However, Munhoz will have learned his lesson from the first fight where he invited Rivera’s strikes which ultimately lead the American to victory.
Fight management is something Munhoz will have improved on from his previous outing against Edgar. While Rivera impressed with his own fight IQ in his controlling victory over Stamann.
Munhoz will be more motivated for revenge in the rematch at UFC Vegas 20 considering how frustrating his last two fights have played out. If he has learned from the first fight to compose himself and use the leg kicks efficiently that worked so well for him against Edgar then he may well earn his sweet revenge this time around. The Brazilian also has his trademark guillotine choke to turn to should he need it, which has proved to be the downfall of many of his previous opponents.
Prediction: Pedro Munhoz via decision.
Who do you see winning this Pedro Munhoz vs Jimmie Rivera 2 scrap? Does Pedro Munhoz get his revenge over Jimmie Rivera? Or does Rivera reign victorious once again at UFC Vegas 20? Let us know your prediction for this fight in the comments below!
Follow me on Twitter @Dionwills16 for news and discussions.