NCAA Division I wrestlers Mark Munoz and C.B. Dollaway collide in one of the more relevant divisional match-ups in the early part of 2011 on Thursday night. Munoz has amassed a 4-2 record inside the Octagon with victories over Nick Catone, Ryan Jensen, Kendall Grove, and most recently -- fellow NCAA wrestler Aaron Simpson. He was narrowly defeated by Yushin Okami at UFC on Versus 2 back in August, but it likely hasn't diminished the fact that Munoz is one of the up-and-coming fighters in the division.
Dollaway has also enjoyed a surprising rise in rank over the course of the last two years. Following a loss to Tom Lawlor at UFC 100, Dollaway rattled off three straight wins with his most recent coming against Joe Doerksen at UFC 119. Dollaway's improved grappling ability was on showcase that evening as he caught "El Dirte" in a guillotine after an exciting scramble on the ground. While the competition that Dollaway has faced may not impress most fans, the fact that he's continued to win and looked impressive doing it speaks volumes to the improvements he's been making in the gym.
On paper, Munoz should score advantages in nearly every department with the exception of his submission ability. Munoz is well-known for his propensity to punch for power and devastate opponents with a ground and pound attack. His strength is one of the main reasons he's been so successful despite having technical deficiencies in many areas.
Dollaway could take advantage of those weaknesses, although Munoz has had time to improve on his grappling acumen and striking ability. We saw some of that improved striking against both Okami and Simpson. In my mind, Munoz has the better wrestling credentials, superior striking, and the added threat of brutalizing Dollaway from the top if he can gain the dominant position. Dollaway's best asset is his ability to catch opponents in submissions. Don't discount that for one second though as it is a huge plus for Dollaway in this fight. After all, Munoz isn't exactly the most technical grappler on the ground.
In my mind, it's hard not to pick Munoz here. Improvements matter in this sport, and while I can't foresee the possibility that Dollaway rolls Munoz into a Peruvian necktie -- this sport's unpredictability only allows us to gauge the probability of that happening. Munoz should win when we stack up the various skills each man possesses. Munoz via TKO.