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UFC 235 card: Cody Garbrandt vs Pedro Munhoz full fight preview

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MMA: UFC 207-Garbrandt vs Cruz Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight scrappers Cody Garbrandt and Pedro Munhoz will throw down this Saturday (March 2, 2019) at UFC 235 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

After a perfect (11-0) start to his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career that saw him quickly rise through the ranks and capture the title, Garbrandt came up short in a pair of bouts with divisional champion T.J. Dillashaw. Now looking to rebound for the first time in his young career, “No Love” will fight in a non-five round fight for the first time since 2016. That is not to say he has an easy fight in front of him. Munhoz has really come into his own in the last couple years, winning six of seven fights and establishing himself as a top contender. He’s still improving, and this is a major opportunity for the Brazilian finisher.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Cody Garbrandt

Record: 11-2
Key Wins: Dominick Cruz (UFC 207), Thomas Almeida (UFC Fight Night 88), Takeya Mizugaki (UFC 202), Augusto Mendes (UFC Fight Night 83)
Key Losses: T.J. Dillashaw (UFC 227, UFC 217)
Keys to Victory: Garbrandt is an exceptional athlete. The 27-year-old combatant possesses unique speed and power for the Bantamweight class — he’s never faced an opponent and not at least dropped them. Helping him dictate the range is a solid wrestling background, which has prevented anyone from finding success pinning him to the mat.

That speed will be important against “The Young Punisher.” Munhoz is a very dangerous kickboxer himself, but the Brazilian cannot match his foe’s athleticism. Instead, Munhoz is willing to throw himself into the fire and take shots with the intent of returning harder blows and wearing his foe down.

“No Love” likes nothing better than an opponent who is there to be hit. He should be wary of Munhoz’s kicks in case the early finish does not materialize, but Garbrandt really lets his foe stand in the pocket without absorbing heavy letter. Plus, while those low kicks are a very dangerous weapon for Munhoz, Garbrandt has also proven quite nasty when countering kicks.

Pedro Munhoz

Record: 15-3 (1)
Key Wins: Bryan Caraway (TUF 28 Finale), Rob Font (UFC Fight Night 119), Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 100), Brett Johns (UFC 227)
Key Losses: Jimmie Rivera (UFC Fight Night 77), Rafael Assuncao (UFC 170), John Dodson (UFC 222)
Keys to Victory: Munhoz is a well-rounded fighter best known for two attributes: his aggressive Muay Thai and the division’s best guillotine choke. Recently, his kicks have been looking particularly nasty, especially when Munhoz dismantled the always-tough Bryan Caraway inside a round with calf kicks and snap kicks to the belly.

Munhoz’s improved kicking represents perhaps his best chance at upsetting the former champion. Garbrandt is a boxer at heart, and on the whole, there is no better way to disrupt a boxer than kick the hell out of his leg. In addition, athleticism wanes as the calf/thigh weaken.

At the same time, Munhoz’s ability to hide those kicks will be tested. As mentioned, Garbrandt makes it a habit to counter low kicks — take a look at his knockout win over Augusto Mendes for the easiest example. It is vital that Munhoz sets up his kicks with punches and feints, otherwise he will be vulnerable.

That guillotine could come into play as well. It’s unlikely that Munhoz can consistently take or hold Garbrandt down, but he only needs a brief scramble on the mat for a chance to jump at the neck.

Bottom Line: The winner of this match up is in title contention.

Admittedly, it will be difficult for Garbrandt to receive a third shot at Dillashaw, but both Henry Cejudo and Marlon Moraes seem to stand a fair chance at dethroning “Killashaw.” If Dillashaw were to lose his crown, a win here puts Garbrandt just one more victory from another title shot. To be even more specific, a victory here likely sets up Garbrandt for another bad blood showdown, this time opposite Aljamain Sterling.

As mentioned, this is a well-deserved opportunity for Munhoz, who has never looked better than his last pair of violent wins. Garbrandt is the former champion and ranked as third best Bantamweight on the planet — it would be a huge win for the Brazilian. In fact, it would be the first top-five victory of Munhoz’s career, the type of win required to take that final step into title contention.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 235 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 235: “Jones vs. Smith” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC 235, Cody Garbrandt and Pedro Munhoz will open the main card. Which man will see his hand raised?

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