The UFC’s return to the Apex this weekend will feature a co-main event between two up-and-coming middleweight prospects. Brendan Allen, one of the best fighters to ever come out of South Carolina will put his black belt to the test against one of the division’s most terrifying grapplers.
Andre Muniz is currently riding a 9-fight-winning streak panning his days on the Brazilian circuit. Submissions over Jacare Souza among other UFC vets have catapulted him into the spotlight as the next big submission specialist.
Brendan Allen will come as the +155 underdog. $100 on the American could return a prize of $155 in an upset.
Brenden Allen is a well-rounded fighter, standing in a conventional stance without fear of ending up anywhere. What that means is he is happy to stand or take the fight to the ground and has even admitted to neglecting takedown defense in some camps because he is so comfortable fighting off of his back.
That is not a luxury he can expect from a grappling specialist like Muniz, so Allen will have to make the most of the striking exchanges when he can keep it there. He has a great right body kick, but Muniz also favors his left body kick, and in opposite stances, they will be exchanging these. The biggest difference is once the kicking game is passed and they end up in boxing range, Allen is a bit more diverse with his punches. Normally, he already leads with his right cross and ends with his lead hand, often a shovel hook that leans towards an uppercut. This will be especially effective against a southpaw so as to avoid the lead-hand battle that negates the usual effectiveness of a jab.
Andre Muniz will also first engage with that left rear kick, mostly to the body but also a good mix upstairs and to the legs. It takes some time to get the range down but once he settles in, watch for the straight left as well as the check right hook. In general, though, he will be using his striking to back Allen up to the cage to ultimately shoot for a single. Muniz likes to throw the right hook, and left straight into the single leg, immediately turn the pipe and drop his opponent on their back.
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Branden Allen fought Jacob Malkoun just two fights ago, who although is more a wrestler than BJJ-based like Muniz, does utilize similar tactics. The ease with which Malkoun was able to pick up the single should be a confidence booster for Muniz, although they finish the takedown differently, another similarity is that if Allen defends, both Muniz and Malkoun transition to a back clinch instead. Watch for Muniz to attack the single leg, and turn the corner, but if he missed swivel to the back instead and drag Allen down.
On the mat, Muniz has been a step ahead of everyone, but he is most definitely an “arm hunter” from any position be it guard, top, or on the back. The latter is fairly unique to him, he will intentionally avoid locking in a body triangle, and go high on the back so that he can throw his leg over an isolated arm, and this armbar method is his specialty. He does have to be careful, as this does always run the risk of throwing himself into the bottom position if he misses and Brendan Allen has stellar jiu-jitsu and ground and pound from the top position as well.
Prediction and Betting Guide
Brendan Allen’s best bet is to keep the fight standing, and Muniz to get it to the mat. This is not a clear, striker vs. grappler matchup, so do not underestimate either man in either area, but in general, these are the areas they want to be. Although Allen is a bit more polished standing, the power and aggression that Muniz shows may be enough to get Allen on the back foot, setting up that single leg, and ultimately I do see Muniz securing the takedowns he needs. Compared to past opponents, the risk of ending up on the bottom is high against Allen because he is so good there himself so if Muniz is hunting for the back-to-armbar transition he should be disciplined and attempt it when he feels fully in control. Against Uriah Hall, in his last outing, he showed this kind of patience so if he comes in with the same mentality here he should get the win.
Pick: Muniz to win (-200 odds at MyBookie)