For an athlete the likes UFC middleweight contender Mark Munoz, the worst thing you can do to him is sit him on the sidelines and not allow him to workout like the madman that he is.
Munoz has competed at a high level for the majority of his life.
As a wrestler, he was a state champion in high school, a three-year member of the FILA Junior World Wrestling Team, a two-time All American in college, and an NCAA Division I champion.
After college, Munoz entered the mixed martial arts world, storming to a 12-2 record in his first four years.
He reeled off four consecutive victories – over Aaron Simpson, CB Dollaway,Chris Leben and Demian Maia – which left him poised on the brink of a shot at current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. That’s when Chris Weidman – Silva’s upcoming challenger at UFC 162 in July – pulled the rug out from under Munoz.
Not only did Munoz suffer a crushing defeat when he was on the verge of realizing his dreams, but he also suffered a devastating injury that left him immobile for months on end. As a result, Munoz fell into depression and put on a lot of weight, something he doesn’t normally do between fights.
“I kind of went into depression and was kind of like one of Austin Powers’ characters in his movie,” Munoz recalled. “I ate because I was sad and I was sad because I ate.
“Having an adversity stricken year was really, really hard for me. It was just hard for me to not be able to fight and not be able to compete and not train for six months. It was very hard.”
Munoz was already starting to turn things around when he got just the spark he needed to re-ignite the fires that burn inside of him.
The UFC called and offered him a fight.
And not just any fight, a fight that – less than a year after his loss to Weidman – could put him right back in the thick of title talk.
Munoz will fight Tim Boetsch as part of the undercard in support of the UFC 162 headlining bout between Silva and Weidman.
For Munoz, looking back on such a difficult year is just part of what makes him a champion. It’s all in the story that he hopes will one day include a chapter about Mark Munoz, UFC middleweight champion.
“Adversity is the dust that polishes the diamond. It’s a bump in the road for me and it’s part of my story.”