Mark Munoz Says He’s Arrived, Time to Talk Title

November 3, 2011
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Mark Munoz and CB Dollaway at UFC Versus 3

Mark Munoz and CB Dollaway at UFC Versus 3

Mark Munoz may only have 13 professional fights to his credit, but he’s learned an awful lot in that short amount of time.

The former NCAA champion from Oklahoma State came into fighting with a reputation as a fierce wrestler, one of the best in the game. Over time he developed a devastating ground and pound style that could be considered tops in all of MMA.

Munoz has had to endure some growing pains as well, including two losses thus far in his career, but one thing is clear as he embarks on his main event fight against Chris Leben at UFC 138

Now is his time.

“This is the fight to get me closer to a title shot. This is what we train for,” Munoz told MMAWeekly Radio. “I’m excited to be able to be at this place in my career, to be able to showcase what I’ve improved, and I’m excited and I’m ready. After that Demian Maia fight I took confidence away and now I feel that I’ve arrived. I’m ready.”

The fight with Demian Maia was anything but easy, however, it did show off Munoz’s ever-evolving game. Despite Maia’s standing as one of the most dangerous jiu-jitsu fighters in the sport, Munoz came close to snatching a submission in the fight.

Maia also showed off some rapidly improved stand-up, but Munoz answered right back with some of his own. Sure, Mark Munoz will always be a wrestler at heart, but he’s out to prove that at this stage of the game he’s a mixed martial artist.

“I think I put the division on notice to let them know the wholeness of my game now. I’m not just a wrestler, but I have power in my hands and I have a great jiu-jitsu game. I’m improving every day inside the gym, and I work extremely hard,” Munoz said.

This time around Munoz faces a very tough challenge in the form of Chris Leben, who has some of the heaviest hands in the middleweight division.

Leben is lethal with one-punch knockout power, but Munoz is happy to show the former Team Quest fighter that whether this fight takes place on the feet or on the ground, he can go toe-to-toe with anyone.

“For Chris Leben, he does have power in his hands and I do as well, but it’s mixed martial arts. There’s hundreds of ways to win a fight so for me I want to go out there and perform the best way that I can when it comes to mixed martial arts,” said Munoz.

The other piece to this puzzle is the fact that the fight with Leben is the first ever five round non-title fight in UFC history. If Munoz’s long term goal is to get a shot at the UFC middleweight title, there’s not a much better way to prepare than to get ready for a 25-minute fight right now.

Munoz enlisted teammate Krzysztof Soszynski to lead his strength and conditioning program, and now he’s not just prepared for a 25-minute fight. He’s ready to go an hour if need be.

“I doubled my sparring rounds for 10 rounds, and I just make sure I’m ready to go five rounds. I counted for the nerves and everything else, you’ve got to be ready to go at least 10 rounds. That’s what I’ve been doing,” Munoz revealed.

If victorious, don’t expect Munoz to grab the mic and start demanding title shots or saying something loud and boisterous to try and put the spotlight on himself. Munoz has the quiet demeanor to say very few words and let his actions speak for themselves.

When UFC 138 is over, however, Munoz wants to make sure Dana White, Joe Silva, and everybody else in charge know that he’s ready to challenge for the title.

“I have one sight in mind and that’s to be world champion,” said Munoz. “Middleweight world champion.”

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  • Thats the attitude of a Champion…..

  • wonggfan

    Attitude of an elite wrestler who happens to be a mediocre fighter. Yawn!

  • afk

    what’s that? wronggfan ignorantly insulting somebody who’s more talented and makes more money than he does/ever will?

    zomg they must suck!!!!11111one ty for teaching me how n00b i ammmmm

    • wonggfan

      what’s that? afk thinks just because poor UFC fighters make more money than he does, they must make more than everyone else on this board.

      To AFK, UFC fighters are rich.

  • Towers66

    Unfortunately the Leben/Munoz fight will be a boring fight. Chris will be ready to put on a show but I believe that Munoz’s only chance of winning this is by taking advantage of his wrestling/judo skills. Good game plan but not exciting. On the other hand, my gut tells me(and I hope)that Chris Leben will pull off a win come Saturday night. My fingers are crossed for him.

  • MillerTime

    Leben jits is going to counter act Munoz’s wrestling, even if it dose go to the ground Munoz better be careful because Leben will be constantly attacking, i predict this is going to be a very close fight

  • Towers66

    I hope your right MillerTime. I have to say that Leben is officially my favorite fighter since TUF days. I have stuck around to watch every one of his fights through the ups and downs. His history with wrestlers(Kos, Rosholt) has not gone his way. Yes, his Jits is one of the most underrated in the sport. So I really hope they stand and bang til they drop but if it goes to the ground lets hope Leben’s ready for it and does his thing. Remember this one is 5 rounds ladies and gents.

  • MrAdidas

    Leben may have underrated Jits’ but how will that “counter act” Munoz wrestling? Munoz trains with Anderson Silva & the Noguiera bros etc., so I’m fairly certain that his BJJ is better than Lebens, dont forget Munoz almost submitted Maia a 4 time BJJ world Champ. The ONLY way Leben wins this fight is by KO (punchers chance), other than that I see Munoz winning this fight, and winning before the 25 mins are up. I’m not sold on Lebens cardio, especially for 25 mins – BABHAHA now thats funny! I guess time will tell.

  • MrAdidas

    FYI: I’m not sold on Munoz being a top 5 MW… yet! So I’m not so sure about this title talk… yet!