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UFC on ESPN 15 preview, ‘Munhoz vs Edgar’ predictions

UFC Fight Night: Edgar v The Korean Zombie Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continues its breakneck pace this Sat. night (Aug. 22, 2020) on both ESPN and ESPN+. UFC APEX in Las Vegas hosts a pivotal bantamweight clash between elite finisher Pedro Munhoz (No. 5) and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, who makes his first mixed martial arts (MMA) appearance at 135 pounds.

In addition, hard-hitting “Contender Series” veteran Alonzo Menifield replaces Shamil Gamzatov on short notice, taking on veteran light heavyweight title contender Ovince St. Preux in the 205-pound co-feature.

As always, we’ve got our UFC on ESPN 15 “Prelims” breakdowns here and here, plus Andrew Richardson’s excellent “X-Factor” work on the main card here. Want odds and betting lines? We’ve got those right here.

On we go.

135 lbs.: Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar

Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz

Record: 18-4 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -255
Wins: 5 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 65” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 603 of 1418 (43%) | Takedown attempts: 7 of 33 (21%)
Current Ranking: #5 | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Aljamain Sterling

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar

Record: 23-8-1 | Age: 38 | Betting line: +215
Wins: 7 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 12 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 6 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 72” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 1568 of 3918 (40%) | Takedown attempts: 67 of 215 (100%)
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Knockout loss to Chan Sung Jung

The sad thing about this matchup is that we’d only have to rewind about three years for me to have full confidence in an Edgar victory. Lacking high-level striking technique or sufficient wrestling to take top-level bantamweights down, Munhoz relies on endless pressure and his inhuman durability to either beat opponents down or provoke them into shooting into his killer guillotine. That’s a gameplan that a prime or even semi-prime Edgar would have eaten alive.

Munhoz’s fights with Jimmie Rivera, John Dodson, and Aljamain Sterling showed his difficulties with the sort of mobile, high-speed attack that Edgar boasts, and “The Answer’s” submission defense has proven impenetrable throughout his career. Munhoz would probably score an early knockdown against the 2017 Edgar, but ultimately spend the rest of the fight fruitlessly chasing him around while getting pieced up.

That was my exact thought process when Edgar stepped into the cage against Brian Ortega, another iron-tough guillotine specialist who pressures instead of wrestling. Ortega demolished Edgar in under a round.

That’s the rub: Edgar, always vulnerable in the first round, can no longer consistently recover enough to take over down the stretch. He wilted under fire from Ortega and the “Korean Zombie,” and for all that he has Munhoz outclassed in most areas, I expect him to do the same here. Cutting 10 more pounds doesn’t change the fact that Edgar is almost 39 years old and has spent the last decade taking lumps from some of the organization’s best. Munhoz drops him with a clubbing shot before either pounding him out or handing him his first-ever submission loss via guillotine.

Prediction: Munhoz via first-round technical knockout

205 lbs.: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield

Ovince “OSP” Saint Preux

Record: 24-14 | Age: 37 | Betting line: +115
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 8 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 9 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 80” | Stance: Southpaw
Striking accuracy: 460 of 1073 (43%) | Takedown attempts: 9 of 44 (10%)
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Split decision loss to Ben Rothwell

Alonzo Menifield

Record: 9-1 | Age: 32 | Betting line: -135
Wins: 8 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 76” | Stance: Orthodox
Striking accuracy: 80 of 167 (48%) | Takedown attempts: 0 of 2 (0%)
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Devin Clark

After brutal knockouts of the athletically overmatched Paul Craig and Vinicius Moreira, “Contender Series” veteran Menifield entered his UFC 250 bout with Devin Clark a massive favorite. Despite Clark’s historically iffy chin, however, “Brown Bear” put the pace on Menifield and exploited the technical limitations he’d yet to smooth out after five years in the game. Now, just two months later, Menifield has elected to deal with one of the most well-traveled veterans in the division on short notice.

I respect Menifield’s confidence and can definitely see why he’d take this fight; Saint Preux, a fellow football veteran, never even approached the lofty heights his athleticism promised when he jumped ship from Strikeforce in 2013. He’s 2-4 in his last six, both of those losses coming by comeback submission after getting dropped, and his only non-comeback victory since 2016 came against an aging and undersized Yushin Okami.

That said, Saint Preux is still significantly taller and rangier than Menifield, whose ability to go three hard rounds is now in question. Saint Preux also has the ostensible wrestling edge and likely hits harder than anyone Menifield’s yet faced, making him a mighty difficult opponent to deal with even without the quick turnaround. Menifield could definitely just destroy Saint Preux right off the bat, but the likelier outcome sees “OSP” exploit Menifield’s greenness to survive the early onslaught and pick away with long lefts and power kicks for a decision win.

Prediction: Saint Preux via unanimous decision

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 15 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 15: “Munhoz vs. Edgar” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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