Pedro Munhoz unconcerned by UFC rankings, as finish-driven as ever ahead of TUF 28 Finale

Although not unanimously beloved, the UFC rankings are a tool that fighters often use to map out their career steps.

You’ll hear about it in post-fight call-outs, when a winning fighter requests that the matchmakers pair them with a top-10 foe. You’ll hear about it in pre-fight interviews, when an up-and-comer talks about their plans of cracking the top-15 within a certain timeline. You’ll even hear it in the complaints of those who struggle to get those ranked above them to sign on the dotted line.

You won’t hear about it from bantamweight Pedro Munhoz, though.

“I did notice that nowadays, many fighters are mostly concerned with facing someone in the rankings,” Munhoz told MMAjunkie. “But we know that the rankings are the opinions of journalists. In my last bout, I faced Brett Johns from Wales, who had a 15-1 record. He was ranked at the time. I face the No. 1 contender in the same way as I would face No. 15.

“My strategy never changes. I’m on my fifth contract with the organization. I’m satisfied in many ways, especially financially. So I’m there to do my work, which is to fight. I see the rankings as an unofficial part of the UFC, so I don’t worry too much about it.”

That stance is not exactly surprising coming from Munhoz. Throughout his rise up the UFC’s 135-pound division, the Brazilian has always made it clear that he’s not one to handpick his competition. He’s backed up his claims, too, as proven by a plural octagon record that shows everything from contenders like Raphael Assuncao to fresh faces like Damian Stasiak.

For the record, Munhoz (16-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) appears in the No. 9 position of those rankings. And he has another ranked opponent ahead of him on Friday, at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale at Pearl Theater at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Although Bryan Caraway (21-8 MMA, 6-3 UFC) vanished from the UFC rankings for a while, for reasons he explained in a recent chat with MMAjunkie Radio, he now appears at No. 14.

In the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings, though, it’s Munhoz who sits at No. 14, with Caraway at 11.

In any case, it’s not like Caraway needs those numbers to be recognized. Although he’s never gotten as far as a title shot, Caraway is a seasoned veteran who, despite a recent rough patch, has long been seen as one of the top bantamweights in the world. That isn’t lost on Munhoz, who respects Caraway for “him and his experience.”

But here’s yet another characteristic that has become widely associated with Munhoz’s mindset: He doesn’t enter the octagon expecting the judges to decide anything. “I always look for a finish,” Munhoz says, and his submission-heavy record confirms it.

With Caraway, it won’t be different.

“I’ll look for a knockout or submission, same as always,” Munhoz said.

What some may view as risky thinking has certainly paid dividends for the Brazilian. So far, the bantamweight has only suffered three losses in the octagon, and all of them had some extenuating factors. His octagon debut, against a longtime contender in Assuncao, was on short-notice – and Munhoz still went the distance. His other setbacks, to Jimmie Rivera and John Dodson, were both via split decision – and Munhoz still disagrees with the latter.

Of Munhoz’s last five wins, three were via guillotine choke. More recently, in August, he took a clean sweep over Johns in a thrilling UFC 227 battle. Add a win over Caraway to the mix, especially one that comes in emphatic fashion, and Munhoz would certainly earn the right to call some shots in regard to his octagon future.

True to form, though, that doesn’t seem like something the bantamweight is particularly interested in doing.

“With another victory, I’ll face whoever the UFC chooses for me next, someone with whom I can entertain the fans,” Munhoz said. “Just say when and where, and I’ll be ready. I love fighting. More than that, I love to put on a show for the fans.”

For more on The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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