A high-tension bantamweight clash was added to UFC 269 in Las Vegas as Dominick Cruz and Pedro Munhoz verbally agreed to the December 11 bout, per people close to the two camps and an initial report from MMA Fighting. The 9th and 11th-ranked 135-pounders look to better their chances at the title shot in the already chaotic bantamweight division. There is no confirmed venue and location for the card, but it is expected to take place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, according to MMA Junkie.
Implications for the Bantamweight Title Picture
Dominick Cruz (23-3-0 6-2 UFC) looks to continue what has been an extremely successful career waylaid by injuries, and by getting past Munhoz he believes he can get back in the game. His last bout was a split decision win (30-27, 29-28 Cruz, 29-8 Kenney) over Casey Kenney, which marked the first time since 2016 that he had walked away victorious. He outstruck Kenney 89-74 and landed 2 takedowns to his opponents’ none, a strong showing for the 36-year-old who many believed could have been much more potent had he stayed healthy in his prime.
Pedro Munhoz (19-6-0 9-6-0 UFC) the 34-year old veteran is coming off a decision loss to former featherweight champion and bantamweight title challenger Jose Aldo. He snapped the two-fight losing streak against Frankie Edgar and current champion Aljamain Sterling by beating Jimmie Rivera before running into Aldo. He looked overwhelmed in his last bout, getting dominated on the feet by a striking tactician in Aldo and being outstruck by over 40 significant strikes over the course of the fight.
Keys to the Fight
Both of these men are extremely skilled fighters, having been the cream of the crop at bantamweight for years. Cruz is especially skilled, considering he is regarded as one of the best 135-ers ever and has only lost three times, one of those recently coming to Henry Cejudo. Munhoz has settled into a Stephen Thompson or Yoel Romero-type role, being one of the top contenders for years and good enough to fight in the top five of the division but never attain a title.
Both Cruz and Munhoz are known for their ground game, as Munhoz has 8 submission wins to his credit and Cruz is a fantastic defensive wrestler and scrambler. Cruz is also known for his legendary footwork, something that Munhoz could take advantage of as Dominick’s unorthodox style can leave him vulnerable to combinations late in the fight. This may be a new-age MMA way of thinking, but Munhoz should certainly look to utilize lead leg kicks to prevent Cruz from constantly slipping and switching stances like he is prone to do.
For Cruz, he should look to avoid going to the mat, but the clinch and its transitions could be important for him- his head movement and footwork should afford him ample opportunities to catch Munhoz off guard and sway the fight in his favor. If Cruz does go to the mat, he needs to get up as soon as he can and avoid being caught slipping in vulnerable situations.
Both men could realistically catch each other in any aspect of the game, which makes it so interesting: they are so even that it could be anyone’s fight, and should make for fantastic viewing. Not only that but the stakes are enormous, as a spot in the top five is on the line.
How do you think this fight will play out? Let us know in the comments!
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