Rob Font is fighting Pedro Munhoz for the first time on Saturday. But, whether Munhoz knows it or not, the two go back a bit.
More than three years ago, Font had just won the featherweight belt for CES MMA, while Munhoz was RFA’s bantamweight champion. Font says he was at a Buffalo Wild Wings, drinking beer and eating wings while watching fights, when RFA’s promoter approached him about a meeting with Munhoz for their 135-pound title.
At the time, Font says his response was that there was no way he could make the bantamweight limit. Yet, here they are.
“It’s funny, because he actually kind of got the ball rolling for me going down to 135 and fighting,” Font told MMAjunkie Radio ahead of UFC Fight Night 119. “I’m not too familiar (with) his older fights, as far as past then, because I didn’t really think too much of it. But obviously he’s always been on my radar coming into the UFC. I knew eventually we’d end up getting this fight.”
Font (14-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) and Munhoz (14-2-1 MMA, 4-2-1 UFC) are set to clash on an FS1-televised bantamweight main card encounter at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The preliminary card airs on FS2, following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.
As someone who’s followed his foe’s career, Font recognizes Munhoz as a dangerous fighter who’s been in “wars” against high-level competition. Indeed, the Brazilian fighter’s sole career losses came to contenders Raphael Assuncao, stemming from Munhoz’s short-notice UFC debut, and Jimmie Rivera – which came via split decision.
Font is also aware of Munhoz’s “nasty” guillotine choke – the one that finished two of his past three victorious fights, earning “Performance of the Night” honors in the process. And as someone who also sees his opponent as a “veteran” who holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, he seems to have planned accordingly.
“Obviously, we want to keep it standing and do our thing there,” Font said.
But that doesn’t mean Font is intimidated by the thought of going to the ground with Munhoz. Coming off a submission win of his own – a guillotine choke at UFC 213 – Font “is hopeful” that Munhoz could end up meeting a similar fate than Douglas Silva de Andrade (as well as four opponents before him) did.
And, as far as being able to spot an opportunistic submission goes, rolling with grappling wizard and UFC lightweight Joe Lauzon at least three times a week doesn’t hurt.
“If it hits the ground and I’m on top, I’m going to feel it out and see where it goes,” Font said. “(…) Definitely, we don’t want to sit there and play around with Pedro the whole time on the ground. It’s not going to be one of those fights like, ‘All right, I’ll just keep you here.’ But if I see something, I’m going to jump on it, just like Joe would.”
After getting two “Performance of the Night” bonuses, Font admits to having caught quite the taste for it. As for the best route to getting it when you’re dealing with someone who’s never been finished?
Well, Font is not shy about thinking big.
“I might even pull out something out of my ass, throw a flying triangle or something on Pedro Munhoz, a black belt, in Brazil,” Font said. “That would be huge. They would have to give (the bonus) to me.”
Font is hoping Saturday’s bout can erase the less-than-stellar memories he has of Brazil. The bantamweight’s sole outing in the country took place in May 2014, when John Lineker, who’s also fighting on Saturday, beat him via unanimous decision. It was Font’s second career loss – and also his most recent one.
Logistically, Font hasn’t really changed much to make sure the outcome is different this time around; he’s simply coming in earlier. Mentally, though, there seems to have been quite the shift.
“Last fight, I didn’t have fun,” Font said. “The whole fight week, I wasn’t having fun. I don’t know if it sounds weird, I almost took it too seriously. I made it bigger than what it was. It was like, ‘OK, I’m in Brazil, fighting John Lineker, I could get ranked after this fight.’
“I took it too serious and wasn’t really myself and having fun. I let the moment get to me. So, obviously (I’m going to) go out there, be myself, not try to pretend to be anything else other than who I am.”
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.
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