If the name Pedro Munhoz sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because he was a ridiculously high favorite to win his last fight. At one point, Munhoz was offered as a -4500 favorite to defeat the undefeated Billy Daniels at the RFA event last month. To me, it seemed ridiculous that Munhoz would be a Mike Tyson vs. Buster Douglas type of favorite, so I put a flier on Daniels at +1500. Sure enough, Munhoz won the fight by guillotine choke in 41 seconds.
As an undefeated fighter who was considered to be a 98% favorite to win his last fight, it might seem that Munhoz is destined to destroy the UFC bantamweight division. Having watched Munhoz on tape, I’m not ready to get on board with that. Munhoz is a good prospect for sure and brings some high-level skill with him into the UFC, but he also has some flaws that need to be cleaned up.
Munhoz’s striking is OK but unremarkable. He doesn’t have great hand speed and doesn’t land strikes with a ton of power. He throws a good diversity of strikes but isn’t a huge threat to win by knockout. Munhoz’s takedown defense is also not stellar, as he was taken down multiple times in the fights I saw on tape.
Two fights ago, Munhoz was only able to skate by Jeff Curran, winning by split decision. I know Curran was one of the world’s top bantamweights at one time but those days are long behind him. That’s not the most encouraging result as far as Munhoz’s status as aspiring contender is concerned.
With that said, Munhoz has a tremendous submission game and is talented at slapping on a sudden submission hold after a scramble. He is a very competent striker despite his relative lack of punching power and he has a very good record for a fighter entering the UFC.
That’s all well and good but Munhoz isn’t getting the standard debut fight for a fighter entering the UFC. Instead, he’s facing a very tough opponent in Raphael Assuncao.
Assuncao should be well equipped to take advantage of the flaws in Munhoz’s game. He’s a very underrated boxer as he’s landed 390 significant strikes and absorbed 238 in the UFC/WEC. Assuncao doesn’t strike with a ton of power, so he doesn’t have a lot of highlight-reel finishes to boast about, but he usually is able to win fights on points.
Assuncao also has tough takedown defense. He’s only been taken down five times in 11 fights and has successfully defended 76% of his opponents’ takedowns. For the most part, he should be able to prevent Munhoz from taking him down and threatening to finish him off by submission.
Ultimately, I like Munhoz as a prospect and I think he’s going to succeed in the UFC long-term. But this is an extremely difficult debut fight for him; I have to consider Assuncao the favorite here.
Pick: Raphael Assuncao by decision
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
Assuncao is -195 with Munhoz at +155. My gut instinct is to think that’s a tad low for Assuncao, but I have enough respect for Munhoz’s abilities to just pass on this one entirely.