The violent slide of former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt continued on Saturday in spectacular fashion at UFC 235 in Las Vegas.
Garbrandt (11-3), who was looking to rebound from losing his title following a pair of knockout defeats to current champion TJ Dillashaw, couldn't help himself from being lured into another brawl in which he paid the price. Pedro Munhoz (18-3, 1 NC) made quite a powerful statement regarding his own status as a title contender with a first-round knockout of Garbrandt to send the former champion to a third straight defeat.
"I want to fight for the title," Munhoz said. "There are a bunch of amazing fighters right there but I just knocked out the former champ and I believe I'm the next one for the title shot."
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A native of Brazil, the 32-year-old Munhoz willingly eschewed his reputation as a submission expert by successfully going for broke late in the opening round to record his seventh win in eight fights.
"[Garbrandt] has a lot of boxing amateur experience and so do I," Munhoz said. "Everyone thinks that I'm a grappler and that's where I came from, but the last eight years I have been training a lot of boxing. I like to bring it and it's always better to get a knockout than a submission."
After a slow and tactical start to the round, the final minute turned into mayhem. A head kick from Munhoz briefly sent Garbrandt to the canvas before he popped up to deliver a jumping knee that appeared to hurt Munhoz. From there, the two fighters sat down on their punches and exchanged bombs in the center of the cage. Garbrandt ate a looping right hand but countered with a left hook that rocked Munhoz.
But with Garbrandt firmly entrenched in go-for-broke mode as he dropped his guard and swung for the fences, Munhoz landed his next strike quicker and decked Garbrandt with a right cross. Munhoz leaped on top with hammer punches as referee Marc Goddard called it off at 4:51.
With blood flowing from the side of his head, Munhoz ran around the cage celebrating wildly.
"Do you guys like it? That's my motivation right here, to bring the best fight possible for this crowd right here," Munhoz said. "I never got dropped in training so I knew I could take one to land one more. I knew that was the fight of the night tonight and the best opportunity right now."
It's difficult to guess where Garbrandt, just 27, goes from here following three knockout defeats in which he recklessly chose to brawl and paid the price against a more technical opponent.
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