Interview with RFA fighter and BJJ black belt Pedro Munhoz

Pedro Munhoz is a name familiar to many Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling aficionados that is starting to make waves in the world of MMA. He started training in martial arts at 6-years-old and over the past 20 years he has evolved into one of Black House MMA’s most promising young fighters.

In Brazil, Munhoz became a decorated Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling competitor and won his first three MMA fights in his hometown of São Paulo, which included winning a fight in the Jungle Fight promotion that was televised in Brazil. In late 2010, Munhoz took his talents stateside and his MMA success continued in southern California and Las Vegas, where he won three more bouts.

In July 2011, Munhoz won the Respect in the Cage bantamweight title after winning his sixth straight fight, but finding fights since then has been hard for the talented Black House MMA standout. After seeing 6 scheduled bouts in the last 12 months fizzle out due to opponents pulling out or getting injured, Munhoz happily signed an exclusive 3-fight deal with the RFA this fall.

In the RFA, he knows he will have the opportunity to fight regularly against many of the world’s top bantamweight fighters. His highly-anticipated RFA debut will come this Friday (November 30th) against the seasoned Hard Drive MMA fighter Bill Kamery. The fight will take place on the main card of RFA 5 – Downing vs. Rinaldi and will be Munhoz’s first fight to be shown on American television. It will be broadcasted live from the Viaero Event Center in Kearney, Nebraska on AXS TV starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.


Name: Pedro Munhoz

Nickname: The Young Punisher

Born: September 7, 1986 (age 26)

Nationality: Brazilian

Height: 5 ft. 6 in. (1.68 m)

Weight: 135 lb. (61 kg; 9.6 st)

Division: Bantamweight

Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil (now in Hawthorne, California)

Team: Black House MMA / Kings MMA

Head Coach: Rafael Cordeiro (Striking) and Kenny Johnson (Wrestling)


What is your training background? Shotokan Karate (age 6), Judo (age 8), Jiu-Jitsu (age 13), Muay Thai and Boxing (age 18), and I got my Jiu-Jitsu black belt at age 22.

Who are some of your main training partners? Rafael dos Anjos, Lyoto Machida, Kenny Johnson, Diego Nunes, Rafael Cordeiro, Renato "Babalu" Sobral, and Anderson Silva. 

What got you interested in doing MMA? After I saw the early UFC’s when Royce Gracie fought, I started training Jiu-Jitsu. Before that, I had aready started Karate and Judo, so doing MMA was natural. I had been involved in the martial arts all my life. I talked to my coaches and they agreed I should do it. My first fight was against a Muay Thai guy. They called me and asked if I wanted to come over and take the fight that night. I said, "I’m on my way right now". I was only 16-years-old and I won the fight, but it doesn’t show up on my record, because it was Vale Tudo rules with no gloves. My father almost killed me for doing it! *laughs*

What ranks or titles have you held? I am a Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu under Marco Barbosa, Brown Belt in Judo, six-time State champion in Jiu-Jitsu (São Paulo), and a two-time Brazilian national Submission Grappling (No-Gi) champion. In MMA, I won the Respect in the Cage bantamweight title.

Who are your MMA heroes? Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva. I train with them almost every day and they are very good friends. They have taught me some very good techniques. They are also very nice and humble guys.

What do you like to do when you aren’t training for a fight? I just got married in September. My wife loves MMA. We went to the beach today. We like to watch TV, movies, go to church, and the beach. I also like to skateboard, beacause the water here in California is too cold to surf. *laughs*

What would you be doing if you weren’t a fighter? I would be a full-time MMA trainer. I already have my gyms. I teach at Black House and Babalu’s Iron Gym. I have good students and I like teaching a lot. I studied Sport Science in Brazil. I have my degree and one day I would like to be a full-time trainer.

What is your favorite way to win a fight? I like to strike a lot, but I prefer to submit guys. Striking sometimes is 50-50%, but when I end up on the ground, I feel very comfortable. I’m a Jiu-Jitsu guy, so I like the ground and to submit guys.

What does your family think of you being a professional fighter? My mom doesn’t watch it, but she helps me any way she can. I know she doesn’t like it, but I talk to her almost every day. My dad is also nervous about it. He didn’t fight professionally, but he was a boxer and knows the pressure involved in it. He has helped me with martial arts all my life.

You are 6-0 in MMA and recently signed with the RFA. How does it feel to be getting back in the cage? After my last fight, I was supposed to fight in December last year, then March, April, and June. Six fights in total fell apart due to guys pulling out or getting injured. I train every day. I spar all the time and I’m always ready to fight. I try to always compete in Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling tournaments every few months just to stay sharp. I fought in the L.A. Open, No-Gi Worlds, and others. It feels great to be with the RFA now, where I will be getting fights regularly.

What do you think of your division as a whole? Dominick Cruz, Renan Barão, and Urijah Faber are excellent fighters. The RFA bantamweight division is very talented too. Guys like Sergio Pettis and Chris Holdsworth are very good and are also undefeated. I’m very excited about fighting other great fighters.

Would you like to fight those fellow unbeaten fighters, Pettis (6-0) or Holdsworth (4-0), maybe for the RFA title? Yes, I want those fights to happen, but right now I am focusing on my fight coming up.

What do you think about your opponent at RFA 5, Bill Kamery, who is 10-3 and has more than twice the number of fights as you? I like to fight a guy like Kamery who comes forward. It makes the fight more exciting. I saw some of his fights before, he’s a south paw, he boxes a little bit, he wrestles a little bit, and all of his wins have been finishes. I think it will be a good fight. I like fights with tough guys.

How do you feel about fighting on national television (AXS TV) for the RFA? I fought on TV in Brazil for Jungle Fight a few years ago. It was on a Brazilian TV channel, so I’m very, very happy and excited about fighting on American TV, but my focus is only on the fight right now.

Do you have any sponsors or people you would like to thank before you fight this Friday at RFA 5? Ramuaii, On The Mat (OTM), Black Belt Surfing (BBS), and Break Point.

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