Few fighters move the way Dominick Cruz does across the octagon, and Pedro Munhoz had to bring in some of the worlds best MMA fighters to help prepare for their UFC 269 clash this Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Munhoz and Cruz will collide in the preliminary portion of the card at the T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 11, and the Brazilian discussed his unique camp during a recent episode of MMA Fighting’s Portuguese-language podcast Trocação Franca, working with the likes of ONE flyweight champion Adriano Moraes and former Bellator and RIZIN kingpin Kyoji Horiguchi at American Top Team in Florida.
“[Moraes] is very good at copying, he’s very skilled,” Munhoz said. “Other guys don’t fight exactly like Dominick Cruz but we mixed it up, mixing someone’s power with someone else’s wrestling. Kyoji moves really fast and fights on the outside, so we used that since Dominick fights on the outside.
“Nobody fights like Dominick. So, what does Dominick do? Dominick fights on the outside and needs the distance to fight, and Kyoji also needs the distance to fight. Someone that kind of moves the same way? ‘Mikinho’ [Moraes]. Someone that has quick hands? Someone that has great takedowns? We have 30 here [at ATT]. Someone that has good great jiu-jitsu? Every single person giving their best in training makes me do my 100 percent all the time and get me on a higher level so I can study and prepare my style to fight Dominick Cruz.”
Munhoz considered cutting down to 125 pounds after his recent decision defeat to Jose Aldo, but a shot against a former UFC and WEC bantamweight king — and arguably the greatest 135-pounder of all times — was too good to pass.
The Brazilian talent feels “flattered” with the opportunity to face another former titleholder, the fifth over his past six bouts. Munhoz beat Cody Garbrandt by first-round knockout and lost decisions to Aljamain Sterling, Frankie Edgar and Aldo.
Cruz has said repeatedly in the past that “there is no such thing as ring rust” and Munhoz gives him credit after coming back from long layoffs due to injuries with masterful performances against the likes of Takeya Mizugaki and T.J. Dillashaw. In his most recent bout, Cruz won a split decision over Casey Kenney to bounce back from championship defeats to Henry Cejudo and Garbrandt.
“After two years away and coming off knee injuries, two or three surgeries, and performing the way he performed against T.J., we can’t treat him like any other athlete,” Munhoz said. “He went there and beat the odds. People said he couldn’t take another kick to the knee and he fought T.J. for five rounds, a war. I watched it live in Boston, so, yeah, [ring rust] is bullshit. Just like when people said Aldo was old. If Aldo is old then I’m old too because we have the same age [laughs].
“Casey Kenney is a young athlete, a tough athlete who was coming off wins and great fights, and Dominick was able to take the fight with his technique, experience, tactic and footwork. We’ve been studying to beat him for a while because he’s hard to get hit, hard to get taken down and submitted. It’s going to be decided on the small details, holes in the technique that we’re going to use in our advantage.”