Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight scrappers Marlon Vera and Pedro Munhoz will go to war this weekend (Sat., Aug. 19, 2023) at UFC 292 inside TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
It’s funny how much one loss can affect the perception of an elite fighter. Vera was closing in on a title shot, but he got out-played by the great Cory Sandhagen, and now he’s talked about like he was never any good. In truth, “Chito” remains one of the nastiest finishers at 135 pounds, though he’ll have a hard time proving his case against Munhoz. Indeed, “The Young Punisher” is debatably the division’s most durable man, and he proved he’s still at his best by dominating Chris Gutierrez last time out.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Sean O’Malley (UFC 252), Dominick Cruz (UFC San Diego), Rob Font (UFC Vegas 53), Frankie Edgar (UFC 268), Davey Grant (UFC Vegas 29), Brian Kelleher (UFC on FOX 25)
Key Losses: Cory Sandhagen (UFC San Antonio), Jose Aldo (UFC Vegas 17), Song Yadong (UFC on ESPN 8), John Lineker (UFC Fight Night 119)
Keys to Victory: Vera is an incredible opportunist. Few are better at gathering their reads then capitalizing in a violent manner, and the Ecuadorian athlete has proven himself a nasty finisher both on the canvas and on the feet.
This is Vera’s first three round fight since November 2021, so it’s important he adjusts his internal clock. He’s already received a lot of criticism for slow starts in five rounders, which could be really disastrous if he doesn’t adjust for ten fewer minutes of combat.
I’d like to see Vera account for Munhoz’s iron chin here. The man’s never even been dropped, so hunting for the knockout doesn’t feel like a safe bet. Instead, I’d like to see Vera really aggressive with his left liver kick and snap kicks to the body. Elbows would be a smart choice as well, like the ones he used versus Davey Grant in the pocket.
Cutting open Munhoz probably doesn’t finish him either, but nobody fights perfectly with blood in their eyes.
Record: 20-7 (2)
Key Wins: Rob Font (UFC Fight Night 119), Cody Garbrandt (UFC 235), Jimmie Rivera (UFC Vegas 20), Bryan Caraway (TUF 28 Finale), Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 100), Brett Johns (UFC 227), Chris Gutierrez (UFC Kansas City)
Key Losses: Aljamain Sterling (UFC 238), Jose Aldo (UFC 265), Dominick Cruz (UFC 269), Frankie Edgar (UFC on ESPN 15), Jimmie Rivera (UFC Fight Night 77), Rafael Assuncao (UFC 170)
Keys to Victory: Munhoz really has fought a who’s who of the Bantamweight division, squaring off with so many different champions and top contenders at one point of another. He’s a powerful puncher with arguably the division’s best calf kick — maybe the argument is settled since he out-calf kicked Gutierrez? — and guillotine choke.
At any rate, Munhoz can wrestle really well. He’s not good enough to just shoot off the bat and hold Vera down for three rounds, but I don’t see any reason why Munhoz cannot mix takedowns into his offense. Vera’s usual wrestling deterrence is jiu-jitsu, but Munhoz is a high-level black belt himself and should be fine to swim in those waters.
As Sandhagen demonstrated, an early takedown against Vera can seal a round and put him in a hole. Given his durability and power, slugging it out with Vera just long enough to time takedowns feels like it could be an effective strategy for the Brazilian. One additional wrinkle that could be important would be to focus more on the right snap kick than right low kick, seeing as Vera’s Southpaw stance would make the latter less effective.
It should be a top-notch Bantamweight brawl.
Vera’s loss to Sandhagen dropped his stock considerably, but he’s still a Top 10 Bantamweight with a fan-friendly style. He also fights fairly often, which can help him build momentum quickly. If he returns to the win column here, he does have history with Sean O’Malley, this weekend’s title challenger ...
As for Munhoz, he’s lost to a good amount of the Top Five, which hinders his ability to climb the ladder. The only way to earn another opportunity against the men who have beaten him is to keep winning! Vera would be a significant scalp for his resume, one that would push him up the ladder and closer to contention.
At UFC 292, Marlon Vera and Pedro Munhoz will throw down. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 292 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ESPN2/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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