In Pedro Munhoz’s last trip to the Octagon, he knocked out Cody Garbrandt in a wild brawl at UFC 235. That performance capped a three-fight win streak and catapulted him towards the top of the bantamweight division. Just recently that same division fell into flux when TJ Dillashaw announced he had been flagged by USADA after an “adverse finding” led to a failed drug test, and that he would be relinquishing his title.
The Body Lock’s Michael Fiedel caught up with Munhoz at American Top Team’s media day and was able to get his opinions on a range of different matters.
Before Dillashaw vacated the title, it seemed that Henry Cejudo would be getting the next crack at him. The flyweight champion had knocked out Dillashaw when he dropped down to 125 pounds in an attempt to become a “champ champ.” Rumors then swirled that the rematch between the two would happen at Dillashaw’s weight class. This would have once again put bantamweight contenders on the backburner.
When asked about Dillashaw relinquishing the title, Munhoz was candid in talking about what it meant for his division.
“I was surprised [by the announcement that Dillashaw had been flagged]. I feel very bad for him because nobody wants to be in that situation. At the same time, it can be very good since it can help define who will fight next for the bantamweight division.”
Marlon Moraes is the clear frontrunner in most people’s minds to fight for the vacant title. What’s much less clear is who he should battle for the belt. Munhoz’s impressive victory over a former champion puts him on the short list. But Aljamain Sterling and even Cejudo (to a degree) have their own claims for the shot. Munhoz believes he’s the clear choice due to his aggressive style and the fact that he’s been putting in work at bantamweight.
“Aljamain Sterling is a great fighter. I don’t have anything against him, but he’s a boring fighter. He’s always fighting for points, you know what I mean? If you’ve just seen my record, you know, 80% of the fights are finished by knockout or submission. And then Henry Cejudo, if he fights against Marlon, for the second time he’s going to slow down the division. The first time it was TJ going down. The second time, he’s going up. So for the second time, he’s going to slow the division. So, I am hoping that Marlon and I would get the next title shot and then if you want to do a super fight against Cejudo, I think it would be great.”
With Munhoz and Moraes both from Brazil, it’d make sense for the fight to happen in their home country. But Munhoz doesn’t care where it happens. He just wants what would surely be an exciting affair to come to fruition.
“I think that’s a fight that can be anywhere. We both live in the U.S. but it could happen in Brazil. Literally, I’m not even thinking about where it’s going to happen. What I’m thinking right now is that I deserve to be the next one. Why? Because I’m aggressive and if you look at my fights, a fight with Moraes and I for sure is not going to go five rounds.”
After a performance like the one Munhoz had against Garbrandt, he was surely on the radar of not only fans but also others in his division. Petr Yan who is now 4-0 in the UFC took to Twitter to challenge Munhoz recently. Yan, who just broke into the top ten with a decisive win over Jon Dodson, isn’t in Munhoz’s crosshairs at the moment.
“He [Yan] wants to promote himself like all of us do. Understand that he’s number nine right now. He’s got to deal with the fighters that are close to his rank. My thing right now is to fight for the gold. You know what I mean? We’re going to face each other sometime soon for sure, but it’s not the time right now. I have been doing a lot of work at bantamweight. I just knocked out the former champ. I more than anybody deserves this title next.”
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.