Promoted to the front page from the FanPosts by Luke Thomas.
Mark Munoz is one of the most accomplished wrestlers to ever make the transition to MMA. In high school, Munoz was a first team All-American, a two time California State Wrestling Champion and a NHSCA National Champion. He then wrestled for Oklahoma State University and won two Big 12 titles and the 2001 NCAA title, making him the first Filipino to capture a Division I National Championship.
Mark decided to make the jump to MMA back in 2007, and he won his first three fights before getting an invite to compete in the WEC. He then gained even more notoriety by defeating fellow light heavyweight prospects, Chuck Grigsby and Ricardo Barros by finishing them with strikes in the first round. Months later, the WEC folded their welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight divisions to be able to focus on their lighter weight classes. The UFC then picked up Mark Munoz's contract along with the other top fighters from each division such as Carlos Condit, Chael Sonnen, Brian Stann, Steve Cantwell, and Brock Larson.
Mark Munoz's UFC debut also marked his first career loss, which was against a much bigger and more experienced fighter in Matt Hamill. On UFC 102, he will look to get back to his winning ways as he makes his middleweight debut against Nick Catone.
I was able to speak with "The Philippine Wrecking Machine" and he agreed to answer a few questions on his next fight:
Anton Tabuena: What was the deciding factor in your move to drop down a weight class?
Mark Munoz: The deciding factor is the sheer fact that I want to put myself in the best situation possible when I step into the octagon. Fighting at 205, the guys are bigger, taller, and longer. That puts me at a disadvantage. Fighting at 185, fighters are more my size. This is where I should be.
Anton Tabuena: You wrestled at 197 lbs. a couple of years back. How would the cut to 185 be for you? Do you think you'll be able to shed those pounds easily, and avoid the same problems others had when they first made the cut?
Mark Munoz: The last time I wrestled at 197 pounds was back in 2001. After that I wrestled at 211 pounds trying out for the Olympics till 2004. It's going to be a big cut for me. I'm going to have to modify my diet and do more cardio. Being that I've cut weight for a long time I know where my limitations are. Once I get there I'll be fine.
Anton Tabuena: How's training going? What are you doing differently in this camp to prepare for Nick Catone?
Mark Munoz: Training is going great. I have a lot of great training partners. We've been concentrating on transitions from my standup to my takedowns to my ground. I know them all separately very well. Now it's about how effectively I can transition between them. It's going well. Learning how to defend and attack in all areas.
Anton Tabuena: Brandon Vera had said that octagon jitters could've played a factor in the Hamill fight. Any truth to that? What are your thoughts on that fight, and what do you think could you have done differently?
Mark Munoz: Yes, Octagon jitters did play a role in the fight. I ended straying away from my game plan and starting to go back to the way I used to spar. Usually I have my covers up and go forward. In the Hamill fight that wasn't the case. I let him dictate the fight and I was countering the whole time. In my next fight you'll definitely see more attacking on my part.
Anton Tabuena: A few months back, the UFC was planning to have an event in the Philippines in 2009 but now it seems like their plans have been pushed back a bit. Do you think it will still happen? And what would it mean for you to fight in your home country?
Mark Munoz: Yes, I heard about the UFC having an event in the Philippines. There is still talks about them doing it. I'm not sure of all the details but I'm confident that it will happen. Especially with them having Brandon (Vera), Phillipe (Nover), and I to push. They would have a huge turnout. It would mean so much to me to be able to fight in front of my people. The Philippines has so much love for their people, it shows through our culture. The Filipino culture is so strong in me that to fight in the Philippines it will be as though I'm fighting in front of my family. That would be awesome.