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This Saturday, a pair of top 15 bantamweights will clash on the featured preliminary fight of UFC 227. Pedro Munhoz (15-3, 1 NC) is coming into this one ranked ninth in the world but was last seen losing a split decision to John Dodson in March. Brett Johns (15-1) is coming off the first loss of his career to Aljamain Sterling. The loss came by unanimous decision and Johns will likely have to secure a win to keep a number next to his name. This exciting fight between a high-level grappler in Munhoz and an all around threat in Brett Johns could steal the show as one of the best fights of the night.
Munhoz looks to stay in the top 10
Pedro Munhoz was not very happy after receiving a split decision loss to John Dodson in March as he feels he won the fight. That can be debated all day but the bottom line is that Munhoz has a loss on his record and his push for the title has been slowed down. Before dropping the fight to Dodson, he was on a four fight win streak, capped by a first round submission of Rob Font. Munhoz showed his striking competency in that fight and softened the powerful Font up until he could catch him in a lethal guillotine that caused Font to tap almost immediately.
The squeeze that Munhoz put on Font is just one example of the high level grappling that Munhoz brings to the table. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and holds nine professional victories by submission. Six of those came by way of guillotine choke so if Johns clinches or shoots, he will have to be careful not to leave his neck out for the taking.
On the feet, Munhoz looked solid against Rob Font but the fact that he was swinging for the fences against a power puncher like Rob Font is a bit of a question mark. He was baited into standing and trading with one of the most feared strikers in the division. If Johns can get Munhoz to do the same with him, he may not get be as fortunate as he was against Font. For Munhoz to win this fight, he really needs to take it into his world which is on the ground.
Brett Johns comes off his first loss ever
Up and coming bantamweight Brett Johns will come into a fight off a loss for the first time in his young career. He was a Cage Warriors Champion before signing with the UFC and won his first three fights before that loss to Aljamain Sterling. In the Sterling fight, he allowed himself to be pressed against the cage for too much of the bout. This tired Johns out and made him a far less dangerous fighter than he typically is.
Johns is one of those fighters that is good everywhere. He has a black belt in Judo and a brown belt in Muay Thai. He is also more than proficient on the ground as we saw in his 30 second calf-slicer submission of Joe Soto that earned him Submission of the Year honors. With that being said, going to the ground with Munhoz or trying to pull off such a submission would not be wise against a grappler like Pedro Munhoz.
What Johns can do against the Brazilian Munhoz is take a page out of Sterling’s book and clinch with him against the fence. The Judo background of Johns could help him gain leverage in that position and tire out Munhoz before returning to a striking match. While we have not seen Brett Johns complete a spectacular finish on the feet yet in the UFC, he is always creative and should have the advantage there against Munhoz.
Pedro Munhoz really needs to get this fight to the ground to have the advantage. His striking is not poor by any means but it is not safe to stand with Brett Johns who has great movement and creativity. Johns is the type of fighter who will look like he is playing it safe for a round then throw in a surprise flying knee. If Munhoz can get him to the mat, his chances of winning go way up.
Brett Johns cannot be reckless in this fight against Munhoz or he will feel the wrath of the boa constrictors attached to the Brazilian’s torso. The goal of Johns should be to outpoint Munhoz on the feet and move around a lot to make timing takedowns difficult. If he can show some knees early, Munhoz may question the takedown and be baited into a striking matchup with Johns.
This fight seems fairly even but the odds are very good with Johns at a +210 underdog. If Johns can rebound from his first ever loss, he could get a win and be a great bet for those odds. As long as Johns can keep this fight on the feet and use the cage to tire Munhoz out, he could have an advantage.
Pick: Brett Johns +210
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