Pedro Munhoz enters the first rematch of his MMA career Saturday night, when he looks to avenge a 2015 split-decision upset to Jimmie Rivera in his early UFC days. That, in fact, could end up being the first step of a tour of rematches.
Munhoz lost his last two in the UFC, decisions to 135-pound contender Aljamain Sterling followed by a controversial split call to Frankie Edgar. Eager to share the octagon with Rivera on Feb. 27, Munhoz likes the idea of following it up with second bouts against Edgar and Sterling, who could already be champion at the time after challenging Petr Yan for the UFC belt on March 6.
“That would be a good one,” Munhoz said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “That would be a good strategy.”
The first step goes down Saturday at the UFC APEX, with Munhoz battling Rivera in “a fight that makes a lot of sense.” They first met at Munhoz’s home town of Sao Paulo in November 2015, and the Brazilian talent still feels he should have won that night.
“Jimmie continues to be a tough, dangerous guy,” he said. “But I think I’ve evolved more than him since our fight in 2015 because I’ve changed teams, trained with different people, and Jimmie’s game matches up well with mine. Jimmie has also evolved as a fighter, which makes this a compelling fight.
“I think I’ve done enough to win that fight, but we know it’s not how things work. My last fight was exactly the same, I think I’ve done enough to win, went for the knockout, pressured Edgar, but he’s good. I won’t just go in there and knock the guy out with ease. I have my game plan but there are two people fighting in there.”
Munhoz won’t change the way he competes after another close decision defeat in the UFC because “I’ve always fought for the knockout or the submission, I never went in there to score points.” One thing is for sure, though: Munhoz will attempt to be more effective with his strikes and position on the ground to make sure his opponent is forced to quit.
The American Top Team bantamweight believes he won every round but the second against Edgar, but judge Sal D’Amato was the only one who scored the bout that way. Edgar was knocked out by Cory Sandhagen in his following fight, and “The Young Punisher” welcomes the idea of running that back in the future.
“I’ll have a better idea after this fight, but, yes, a rematch in the future could benefit us, fighters and fans, because the first one was super exciting,” Munhoz said. “I believe a rematch makes sense down the line.”