If Mark Munoz ever needed a reason to smile, the opportunity to become the number one contender in the UFC’s middleweight division should do just the trick.
The only thing standing between the former NCAA champion and a title shot is Chael Sonnen. Munoz was recently a guest on HeavyMMA’s Fight Day, where he talked about his Jan. 28 bout with Sonnen at UFC on FOX: Evans vs. Davis.
“It was awesome,” Munoz explained about getting the call. “I feel Chael and I are a great match-up. I feel his strengths are my strengths, and we are going to go out there and find out who is the true number one contender for the title. If he beats me then God bless him, but I can tell you that I have confidence that I’m going to go out there and beat him up.”
“I have power in my hands. Chael gets on top of people but doesn’t finish them. I finish guys. It’s what I do. I go out there and the guns are blazing. On the feet or on the ground it doesn’t matter. I’m going to demonstrate that power every chance I get.”
Sonnen’s pre-fight trash talk has become the stuff of MMA legend, and he has quickly become the go-to fighter for sound bites. While Sonenn’s words have angered others in the past, but Munoz isn’t concerned with what may be said heading into Chicago.
“There isn’t any animosity between us,” Munoz said. “He’s a nice guy. We actually have pleasant conversations together where we talk about wrestling. We’re managed by the same manager and we see each other frequently. I don’t have anything bad to say about him and the dude can market a fight. He talks the way he talks and he backs it up by the way he fights. I’m going to let my fighting do the talking. That’s how I got to this point in my career.”
While Munoz states there is no tension between the two, a recent story describing a heated exchange during a collegiate wrestling match suggests things haven’t always been pleasant.
“We were in a scramble situation and he ended up getting underneath my leg,” Munoz explained. “In jiu-jitsu you could pull off a knee bar and basically tear someone’s hamstring or knee apart. I kicked out and he switched it to a heel hook. This was in wrestling, not jiu-jitsu, and he knew full and well it was illegal. But hey – that is water under the bridge now and we joke about it. Now we are going to be in an MMA fight and he could actually do it but I don’t think he’s going to get it.”
If defeating Sonnen wasn’t enough of a task, a victory in Chicago would mean a future match-up with Anderson Silva. Munoz is a friend and former training partner of “The Spider” and believes he could succeed where Sonnen previously failed.
“Anderson tends to have trouble with wrestlers. I’m a strong wrestler and I go out there and make it dirty. That’s exactly how Chael is. He goes out there, gets in your face and grinds out matches. I’m the same kind of fighter but I demonstrate more power. When we are on the ground you do not want me on top of you. I’m confident in every position and I’ve never been submitted in a fight.
“Fans haven’t had the opportunity to actually see my jiu-jitsu, but I have great jiu-jitsu defense which actually compliments my wrestling and allows me to do what I do best. The Donkey Kong comes out. I get on top of someone and then boom, boom, boom. It’s just what I do.”
Sonnen’s comments regarding Brazilians have generated a strong backlash from within the country. With the UFC planning Silva’s next defense to take place in Brazil, there is a growing concern for Sonnen’s personal safety should he earn the next title shot. While Munoz validated the threat, he also suggested there is no cause for concern.
“There are bounties for Chael down in Brazil,” Munoz explained. “But he doesn’t have to worry about it, because he’s not going to have to go down there.”