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Pedro Munhoz hopes to jump the line as UFC hesitates on giving Aljamain Sterling title shot

Pedro Munhoz wants to face Petr Yan for the UFC bantamweight championship after UFC on ESPN 15.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Pedro Munhoz aims to spoil Frankie Edgar’s bantamweight debut with a finish in the main event of Saturday night’s UFC on ESPN 15 in Las Vegas, and hopes to score a shot at newly-crowned champion Petr Yan as the company seems undecided on his next move.

Aljamain Sterling won five in a row since 2018, including a decision over Munhoz, and appears to be next in line as the only man ranked ahead of him, Marlon Moraes, already has a fight lined up opposite Cory Sandhagen, who recently lost to Sterling. That said, Dana White’s refusal to name him the next contender following Yan’s win over Jose Aldo in Abu Dhabi gives the Brazilian some hope.

“I believe that with an impressive victory over Frankie Edgar, because of his name, I already see an open path to the belt,” Munhoz said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “And the UFC knows the type of fighter I am. I don’t coast. Many athletes play strategies, being aggressive is my strategy. That’s the fighting style I like and that’s what fans and the UFC like, so I believe that would give me a great jump towards a title shot.”

That said, Munhoz admits he does wonders why the UFC won’t give Sterling the next chance for the gold.

“I’ve always asked myself that question, ‘Why not?’, he won his last five against renowned guys, and that surprised me at first,” Munhoz said. “I don’t know why that happened.”

Munhoz doesn’t know the reason behind UFC’s decision (of lack of), and plans on scoring on it.

The Brazilian was on a three-fight winning streak prior to a decision loss to “Funk Master,” including a first-round knockout over 135-pound star Cody Garbrandt, and sees a potential championship clash with the Russian titleholder as an exciting reason to pass on the Yan-Sterling bout.

“(Yan) is on a rise, he’s a durable and skilled young kid,” Munhoz said. “He’s a great name for the division, the new Era. I think he’s great. Our fight would be fire. We have similar styles, we're both knockout artists, my ground game and his stand-up are very aggressive, we both work on short-to-mid range distance with counters. It would be an exciting fight. I think that’s another reason why a good win over Frankie gives me an open path to the (title) shot because they know it would be a pretty exciting fight.”

Despite the championship talk, the American Top Team talent is not looking past Edgar and their upcoming contest in Las Vegas.

“The Young Punisher” and “The Answer” were originally booked to co-headline a Fight Island show on July 15, but Munhoz was removed from a trip to Abu Dhabi after testing positive for COVID-19.

“A 100 percent” recovered from the infection and free of any symptoms, Munhoz celebrates the fact that Edgar has agreed to make it a five-round showdown this time after having “more time to think now.”

The Brazilian adds that going from a three-round clash in Abu Dhabi to a five-round showdown in Las Vegas “definitely is a great think for me. It’s better because I don’t have to travel to Abu Dhabi, it’s a shorter flight, and it’s easier to adapt to the local weather. It’s very positive.”

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