Chris Gutierrez is at an all-time career high for himself, coming off of a massive win over Frankie Edgar in November. Before retiring the legend he won 7 of his last 8, the only blemish being a draw to Cody Durden. However, while Edgar represented his first win over a former elite, his next opponent, Pedro Munhoz may be his toughest test yet.
Munhoz, who is currently ranked #9 in the world at 135lbs, is Gutierrez’s ticket to the top 10. The Brazilian, Munhoz has a plethora of experience against the world’s best including Sean O’Malley, Dominick Cruz, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Aljamain Sterling, Cody Garbrandt, and Rob Font, the latter two whom he beat.
Gutierrez will ride his 8-fight unbeaten streak into the fight as the -222 favorite over Munhoz.
Chris Gutierrez is a specialist striker, with clean, precise movement and some of the best kicks in the UFC. He is extremely technical and elusive, and although he does not carry major KO power in his hands, his ability to explode into a sniper-like knee, spinning back fist, or kick allows him to finish his opponent fairly often and very definitively.
He will enjoy two inches of reach and three inches of height over Munhoz, which he is known to use well, sliding just out of range of strikes and landing kicks in return. He will need to use lateral movement in conjunction with his stance switching to get Pedro chasing him at odd angles and in doing so, makes it difficult to cut off the cage. He will sometimes throw low volume, to allow his opponents the confidence to rush in, and he will throw fundamental combinations in order to set up his flashier moves. He will need to be wary of losing out on output if he is unable to put Munhoz away but in general, his ability to find the kill shot means Gutierrez may be unphased by being outthrown. He will look to get Munhoz chasing him back and forth on the cage, settle for a moment and allow Munhoz to square up, and then fire a knee, punch, or kick down the middle to the frozen Munhoz.
However when Guttierez is put under pressure, he will sometimes lash out, and if he does spin at an inopportune time, there may be an opportunity for Munhoz to get around to the back and secure grappling control. That being said, while Guttierez’s jiu-jitsu isn’t as polished as his striking it is still technically sound, and expect him to have some ability to work back to his feet in situations.
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Pedro Munhoz’s biggest key to success in this one is his low kicks. Munhoz has blistering outside calf kicks and can throw from either stance. Gutierrez outclasses anyone who headhunts on him, but if Munhoz can beat up the lower body and invest in the midsection, his success upstairs will be much higher later on. He cannot, however, throw even his low kicks blindly, as they also allow for counter knees if thrown too obviously, Instead Munhoz should keep up a pace with a lot of fakes and feints upstairs, to land low and then open up the head, his ability to mix up his targets is crucial. Munhoz has had difficulty getting inside the pocket to work his boxing against taller opponents than Gutierrez but with the footwork and distance control of Guttierrez, it will seem like he is an inch or two even further.
On paper, Munhoz has the grappling advantage, but he tends to go there opportunistically and not actively hunt for takedowns. If Guttierez slips a punch and stuffs his own distance, Munhoz may snap onto his neck, or if Munhoz connects and wobbles Gutierrez, that is when he may take positional control and make use of his BJJ credentials. He is typically known for his guillotine, both jumping bottom and maintaining the neck as he mounts.
Prediction and Betting Guide
I do believe that Pedro Munhoz has the tools to win. The biggest being his low calf kicks, the second being his pace and output, and then finally his jiu-jitsu. However, decision-making, makes fights and in the past Munhoz has opted to headhunt a bit too much with his boxing and neglect the takedown opportunities. I do think that the low kicks will be a hurdle for Gutierrez to overcome, but if he can, his ability to move and get Munhoz chasing him will provide him the openings he needs to land the more significant shots. I don’t think that He necessarily stops Munhoz, but he could very easily hurt him in big moments throughout the fight and sway the judges even if he is out landed.
Pick: Chris Gutierrez to win (-222)
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