Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight grappling aces Pedro Munhoz and Bryan Caraway will throw down this Friday (Nov. 3, 2018) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 28 Finale inside Pearl Theatre at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Winner of five of his previous six, Munhoz is one of Bantamweight’s most aggressive finishers. The Brazilian recently broke into the Top 10, but he still needs a couple more victories to breach the crowded 135-pound title mix. Standing opposite Munhoz will be “Kid Lightning,” the long-time veteran and fellow nasty Brazilian jiu-jitsu player. Though Caraway is not in the title mix, either, he’s an extremely tough out for just about anyone in the division.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 14-2 (1)
Key Wins: Rob Font (UFC Fight Night 119), Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 100), Brett Johns (UFC 227), Damian Stasiak (UFC Fight Night 109)
Key Losses: Jimmie Rivera (UFC Fight Night 77), Rafael Assuncao (UFC 170), John Dodson (UFC 222)
Keys to Victory: It should be no surprise that a former member of King’s MMA is known for aggressive Muay Thai. Munhoz pushes a hard pace, throws brutal low kicks, and has finished three of his UFC victories via guillotine choke.
That fantastic guillotine choke could be pivotal here. A major part of Caraway’s offense is chain wrestling, as the American is more than willing to take a half-dozen shots and transition between finishes until he gets his foe down. That may be a safe strategy against much of the division, but Munhoz’ front choke is not to be taken lightly.
Assuming that Munhoz is unable to catch a sudden guillotine and end things early, his low kicks will be a great weapon. Caraway is a tough as nails grinder with a solid chin, but just a couple weeks back we saw how debilitating low kicks can be to a comparable fighter in Darren Elkins. If Munhoz chops at Caraway’s base, it will make his takedown entries slower and easy to counter.
Key Wins: Aljamain Sterling (UFC Fight Night 88), Eddie Wineland (UFC on FOX 16), Mitch Gagnon (UFC 149)
Key Losses: Raphael Assuncao (UFC Fight Night 54), Cody Stamann (UFC 222)
Keys to Victory: Caraway is an extremely tricky fighter. His top game and jiu-jitsu in general are very good, but he’s limited by his athleticism and is forced to find creative ways into the takedown. As such, Caraway blends his kickboxing and wrestling together well, and once in on the hips, he transitions between shots nicely.
As mentioned, Caraway will have to be wary of the guillotine choke, but it could also be an opportunity for him. Caraway has a dangerous guillotine himself, so he should know the ins-and-outs of defending the choke. If Munhoz pulls guard and fails to sink in the submission, that’s an easy takedown.
Beyond that, I’d like to see Caraway closing the distance as often as possible. Make this fight an ugly war of attrition that takes place solely in the clinch or along the fence — otherwise, his lead leg is at risk.
Bottom Line: This is likely to be a great technical battle.
Munhoz has looked better than ever as of late and easily could be on a six-fight win streak. He currently holds the No. 9 position in the ranks, so he’s really not all that far off from a major opportunity against a top-ranked foe. If he can turn away a proven tough opponent in Caraway, it will go a long way in earning him such a foe.
Caraway’s position is somewhat worse at No. 14. That’s the unfortunate result of a split-decision going against him opposite Cody Stamann, a debatable loss on the heels of a long layoff. Prior to the defeat, Caraway was well within the Top 10 and coming off a pair of important wins, close to the title mix himself. In short, a win here should help him regain that position.
The consequences of defeat are significant and similar for each man. Both are in their early 30s with prior losses to top-five contenders. As such, they really cannot afford to let another fighter surpass them: this is the time for a title run ... not a setback.
At TUF 28 Finale, Pedro Munhoz and Bryan Caraway will go to war. Which grappler will earn the victory?