Pedro Munhoz: Forget Henry Cejudo, 'actual bantamweights' should fight for vacant UFC title

UFC bantamweight Pedro Munhoz’s cell phone was buzzing this past Wednesday as news broke of champion T.J. Dillashaw’s adverse drug test.

With Dillashaw giving up his belt, everyone wanted to know Munhoz’s thoughts on the division. And the answer is pretty simple: move forward.

“It’s unfortunate for Dillashaw,” Munhoz told MMA Junkie. “But it’s fortunate for the rest of us, since he was probably going to rematch (Henry) Cejudo, holding out the bantamweight division yet again. Now, I think that since T.J. relinquished the belt, we can forget about the rivalry with Cejudo and let the bantamweights move forward.”

In Munhoz’s mind, there were only three valid contenders for the belt: Marlon Moraes (22-5 MMA, 4-1 UFC), Aljamain Sterling (17-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) and himself. Sterling he rules out not for competitive reasons, but entertainment ones.

“Aljamain is tough, but he’s a bit boring,” Munhoz said. “Most of his fights are won by points. He never engages toe-to-toe. I think if I face Marlon, the fans will get two aggressive fights with a crowd-pleasing style. We both look to knock out or submit.

“It’s more entertaining. Aljamain is good and experienced, but also boring and decision-prone. Both Marlon and I have mostly finishes, and we’ll collide head on. It’s a better fight for the company.”

Looking at Munhoz 18-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) and Moraes’ most recent fights, it’s hard not to agree. Moraes knocked out perennial contender Raphael Assuncao, and Munhoz stopped ex-champ Cody Garbrandt in one of the more thrilling one-round fights in recent memory.

Munhoz faces disciplinary action as the result of that fight. On March 27, the Nevada State Athletic Commission will weigh a possible punishment for his decision to jump on the cage after the fight; the commission is cracking down on post-fight celebrations after an infamous brawl at UFC 229.

Munhoz concedes he’s a step behind Moraes in the pecking order of bantamweight contenders. But with UFC President Dana White announcing Saturday night that Cejudo and Moraes will face off for the belt later this year, Munhoz admits he’s not exactly thrilled with the choice.

“Marlon was probably going to face T.J. if the Cejudo fight didn’t happen first,” he said. “Now, I think the UFC should let actual bantamweights fight for the vacant belt. That would be Marlon and me.”

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Although Dillashaw was flagged for an adverse finding, he is afforded due process rights as his case is adjudicated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. But he’s also been suspended for one year by the New York State Athletic Commission, which oversaw his fight-night test for a bout against Cejudo at UFC on ESPN+ 1.

Munhoz, who’s had his own struggles with anti-doping allegations, has limited sympathy for Dillashaw.

“Without a doubt, PED usage hurts opponents,” Munhoz said. “I’m not one to judge T.J. I’m sure he had his own motives. He’s paying the price now, if he did it. Thanks to USADA, everyone today is on a level playing field. I’m against PEDs. I support USADA. They’re very serious. They keep us all on the same level.”

For more on the upcoming UFC schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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