by Samantha L. Johnson – MMAWeekly.com
Being the co-main event, fighting in front of thousands in a location just minutes from your hometown, can put a lot of pressure on a fighter, but Mark Munoz is only worried about putting the pressure on Yushin Okami at UFC on Versus 2.
Munoz (8-1) is riding a three-fight winning streak and is looking to continue that pace against Okami on Sunday evening. The former Oklahoma State wrestler has grown in popularity, becoming known for his ferocious ground and pound, something he looks to further display on Aug. 1.
“Before my very, very first fight, before I stepped out into the ring, I watched a Fedor video,” said Munoz. “I watched his ground and pound, I wanted to emulate that. So that’s what I did, I just jumped in the guy’s guard and threw an overhand right… and now, that’s what I’ve been doing my whole mixed martial arts career. I watched it and I keep watching it because I definitely want to develop that style into a more efficient style.”
Of Munoz’s eight victories, five have come via knockout or technical knockout. To prepare for Okami, a southpaw, he has enlisted the training aid of such fighters as Anderson Silva (whom he is also helping to prepare for Chael Sonnen), Krzysztof Soszynski, Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal, and Jay Silva. While Okami has some wrestling experience, Munoz’s main goal is to override his defense, take the fight to the ground, and finish the fight with his ground and pound assault.
“It’s no secret, I’m going to look to take you down and pound you out,” said Munoz. “That’s my game plan. But I’ve developed some techniques that, I hope, I’m going to be able to surprise people.”
To ensure he gets his takedown with ease, Munoz has been working strength and conditioning with Todd Norman at Cutting Edge Sports Training in Lake Forest, Calif. Professional athletes from the NFL, NHL, and NBA train with Norman to get their conditioning to a peak level. Munoz has been working with him to condition himself to be able to deliver a ground attack for a solid round, if needed.
“I attribute (being so powerful on the ground) to my strength and conditioning with Todd Norman at Cutting Edge,” explained Munoz. “He’s incorporated my strengths and developed my weaknesses. For me, I love to ground, so he wants to strengthen that. So I’m able to pound it back for five minutes straight, that’s a whole round; obviously you’re not going to be doing that for a full round. But I have the same power from the first second as I do in the last minutes of the fight.”
While Okami has nearly three times the fighting experience that Munoz does, there has never been an issue or thought that he wouldn’t be able to conquer Okami. Having competed at the top level in wrestling, he is well versed in breaking down opponents and capitalizing on their weaknesses. Munoz feels the way to break Okami is to bring the pressure and keep him stepping back.
“The thing about Yushin, I’ve watched a lot of his fights, his style, looks to enforce his will,” said Munoz. “He comes forward, and he doesn’t do good at going backwards. I’m the type of guy that enforces my will as well. We’re two rams that are going to collide head on.
“I’m super, super stoked for this
L. Johnson is a freelance writer originally from Southeast Idaho, currently living in Las Vegas, NV. Visit her www.sxjohnson.net for her ramblings of on living in the MMA Mecca.