UFC Vegas 7 is a one fight card, that one fight being the headliner between Frankie Edgar and Pedro Munhoz. The prelims would only appeal to those who are mentally ill – like those of us at Bloody Elbow – and the only name outside of the main event that has headlined a card is on the downside of his career. The problem with that one fight is what feels like the most likely outcome is kind of depressing as no one likes to see the decline of their heroes… and it’s hard to deny Edgar is in decline. The good news for Edgar fans is the fight game tends to be highly unpredictable – making my job largely a crapshoot – and there is a clear road to victory for the legend. At the very least though, I can at least give you the intricacies of how the fight could play out…
Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar, Bantamweight
The question isn’t what can be said about Frankie Edgar. The question is what can’t be said about him. He’s a former UFC champion. He took part in one of the greatest fight trilogies in MMA history with Gray Maynard. One of the toughest SOB’s to ever step foot in a cage, it took 13 years of fighting before he was stopped for the first time in his career. Keep in mind he’d been fighting some of the highest level of competition for a full decade of that. Edgar is an all-time great. The problem is, Ken Shamrock is an all-time great as well… and no one would pick him to win a fight at this point.
Edgar hasn’t looked so hot in his last four contests, going 1-3 in that time. While losses to Brian Ortega, Max Holloway, and Chan Sung Jung aren’t anything to be embarrassed by, Edgar lost in the first round to Ortega and Jung and his contest with Holloway wasn’t competitive. Edgar’s impressive ability to recover after a hard shot – think of how he came back from the second and third Maynard fights – has taken a sharp turn south. Sure, he didn’t get finished with a single shot, but he never recovered his wits before the fight was stopped the way he would have in his prime.
Perhaps that wouldn’t be such an issue against most other bantamweights, but Munhoz is one of the heavier hitting 135ers on the roster. Just ask Cody Garbrandt or Bryan Caraway. Munhoz isn’t the most technical striker by any means and is hampered by a very short reach. However, his chin has been damn-near impenetrable, eating the best that his opponent has to offer while continuing to move forward without fear. Given Edgar is known for his movement and volume as opposed to his power, it’s likely Munhoz will be willing to eat a few shots if it means he can land a clean shot.
Edgar’s wrestling, always technical, might be more effective now that he’s no longer undersized. The question is whether he’ll want to. Edgar owns one of the more underrated ground games in the sport – think of the last time he was in a bad grappling position – but Munhoz is the owner of one of the most lethal guillotines with a knack for catching his opposition around the neck. To be honest, a grappling exchange between the two might be the most interesting possibility in this contest, with a slight lean towards Munhoz.
If Edgar can go the distance, he’s the favorite. His feints, fakes, and constant movement allow him to rack up the points in the eyes of the judges as opposed to Munhoz’s powerful but less accurate punching combinations. The question is whether Edgar can go five rounds without getting clipped and potentially finished by Munhoz. Not only is Edgar getting older – and it does look like he’s lost a bit of his speed – he’s dropping down a division. The smaller a division, the quicker the occupants tend to be. My money is on Munhoz to catch Edgar as the future Hall of Famer’s skills are in visible decline. Munhoz via TKO of RD3
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Alonzo Menifield, Light Heavyweight
Does anyone else find it weird that OSP is 37-years old? The former University of Tennessee linebacker – the UFC will never let you forget that – has been under the UFC banner ever since the UFC bought Strikeforce all the way back in 2011, meaning it shouldn’t be a shock. The thing is, OSP has maintained a high degree of athleticism despite his advancing age, allowing him to remain a relevant name at 205. No one is touting him as a contender any longer – four losses in his last six appearances makes that a hard sell – but he still looks like a credible gatekeeper to the top ten.
Stamina is always the key factor with OSP. If he gets tired, the typically durable big man is prone to getting hurt. However, it goes the other way too. He’s had opponents throw the kitchen sink at him early only to slow significantly themselves. Of course, if OSP moderates his energy levels, he’s very hard to put away, thus making an early onslaught a difficult proposition. OSP’s own offense can be inconsistent. There’s times where he sits back and picks his spots, tossing out jabs with the occasional burst of explosive offense for a potential finish. Other times, he has opted to aggressively pursue takedowns, perhaps in hopes of applying a Von Flue – or should I say, Von Preux – choke. He’s been less apt to go that route as of late as that’s usually the route that tends to tire him, but he’s also become more apt to snatch an opportunistic takedown.
Having said that OSP has largely abandoned the idea of wrestling early, it might be a route he takes against Menifield. A former collegiate linebacker himself – in addition to time in the CFL and Arena Football League – Menifield packs a bigger wallop in his punches than OSP, no small feat. One look at his tree trunk legs should be all one needs to know about his ability to explode. However, his last contest was not only the first time he went to decision, it was the first time he had a fight go past the six minute mark… and the first loss of his career. Devin Clark pulled him into an ugly, grinding affair heavy on clinch work and wrestling. It resulted in Menifield gassing early and losing his ability to explode. That was less than three months ago. I’m sure Menifield learned something from that loss, but that’s also a short amount of time to institute real change effectively.
OSP is hard to predict. He isn’t a bad wrestler and it may be worth engaging Menifield in a wrestling contest if it means Menifield gets tired too. Otherwise, he’ll want to keep Menifield at the end of his jab and that hasn’t always been the most effective strategy for the lanky OSP. I struggle to see Menifield not being able to land a couple of hard shots, but OSP is more likely to make a fight-ending mistake grappling than he is on the feet given his durability... and Menifield isn’t a grappler. OSP wears out Menifield enough to get a late stoppage. OSP via submission of RD3
- It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to those who follow the sport that Marcin Prachnio’s transition to the UFC was going to be rough. Very few with karate as their primary background have found success without a heavy emphasis in another field and Prachnio was missing that strong secondary base. Even worse, his first two UFC contests were against counter strikers. Make no mistake, Prachnio has KO power and a nice burst of speed, but when you only play one note, it makes it easy for others to be aware of that note. Mike Rodriguez has teased greatness with his lanky frame – he has the divisions longest reach with Jon Jones moving to heavyweight – and explosiveness, but he loses confidence as soon as the going gets tough and has a questionable gas tank at best. I don’t feel comfortable picking either combatant, but I’ll favor the more physically gifted of the two. Rodriguez via TKO of RD1
- Three fights into his UFC career and there is still a lot that we don’t know about Takashi Sato. His victories came against a formerly legit UFC talent whose chin has since deteriorated and against a very late notice opponent. He appears to have some decent power and solid wrestling, but he can also be patient to a fault in addition to having a long way to go defensively. That could be problematic against Daniel Rodriguez, a pleasant surprise since debuting in the organization earlier this year on short notice. Rodriguez isn’t the most technical fighter, but he has a hell of a chin and a powerful burst when he looks to make his move. Rodriguez isn’t exactly a defensive savant himself, but his aggression helps to make up for that as he’s an accurate striker in his own right. If Sato has figured out how and when to up his aggression levels, this would be his contest to lose. I don’t know if he has, but I’m not willing to say he has until I see it. Rodriguez via TKO of RD3