Middleweight believes he’s one fight away from title shot
It will take more than injury to derail Mark Munoz’s title ambitions, and he plans on picking up where he left off when he returns to action this summer.
After an incident in training forced Munoz to withdraw from his No. 1 contenders bout with Chael Sonnen in January, he went under the surgical knife and sat on the sidelines as he watched Sonnen earn a rematch with Anderson Silva. While the setback was heartbreaking for Munoz, he relied on his faith and self-confidence to find peace of mind amidst the chaos.
Rather than stew on what could have been, Munoz attacked the situation head on. With his body on the mend, Munoz remained positive as he took the first steps on the road to recovery. To no one’s surprise, his rehabilitation is ahead of schedule and Munoz is back in the gym preparing for his return. While the injury would have deflated a lesser fighter, Munoz is hungrier than ever and is excited to resume to his climb toward the middleweight title.
“The Filipino Wrecking Machine” recently spoke to Heavy MMA about the injury, his rehabilitation and how he dealt with the disappointment of having to withdraw from the bout with Sonnen.
“I had a bone spur on my elbow and it had been restricting the movement in my arm,” Munoz told HeavyMMA. “My reach was shorter because I couldn’t fully extend my arm, and 10 days before the Sonnen fight I felt a pop in my elbow and I knew something was wrong. My elbow always pops, but this was different and suddenly I began to feel a lot of pressure. Pain started to set in and I stopped what I was doing. As soon as I stopped, my arm locked at a 90-degree angle and I couldn’t move it in or out. The pain was excruciating and I knew I had injured it pretty bad.
“I went to the doctor and they said the pre-existing bone spurs which had been alongside my elbow had shifted into my joint space, and that is what was causing the lock-up and the pain. I was aware there were already bone chips on the elbow and was supposed to have surgery following my fight with Chris Leben, but then I got the call to fight Chael and it wasn’t an opportunity I was going to pass up for anything. Unfortunately I ended up getting injured and was forced to pull out.
“The injury happened at the biggest moment of my career. I was one step away from getting a title shot, and I know in my heart I could have won that fight. When I had to pull out it was the most hopeless feeling I’ve experienced in my career thus far. But I see things from a different perspective than other people. I believe in order to become the best, you have to be broken some times.
“That broke me down and I needed that to happen in order for me to become a better fighter. It’s like a fractured bone in the sense that if you fracture a bone, it comes back stronger. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to come back stronger than I’ve ever been, and whoever I fight is going to see the improvements I’ve made in the time I was away. This is going to be good for me. I’m going to start the next chapter of my life, and it’s going to be a great one.”
With Munoz on the sidelines, the action in the UFC’s middleweight division continued. He watched as Sonnen bested Bisping and new contenders such as Chris Weidman and Tim Boetsch worked themselves into the title picture. All of this became motivation he used throughout the rehabilitation process, and with a work ethic matched by few, Munoz is well on his way to returning to the Octagon.
“I’m rehabbing every day and training two or three sessions a day,” Munoz said. “All I need to do is shed some of the rust off and I’ll be back and better than I’ve ever been. I’m feeling good. I’m sparring now and it’s going well. I’m not hitting with full power quite yet, but I’m using the time to improve the other aspects of my game. I’m working on my kicks and I’ve recovered to the point where I can do takedowns with it, as well. Everything is going good.
“I’m eyeing a summer return. I see my doctor next week and he’s been very happy with my rehabilitation thus far. He told me I’m a month ahead of schedule, so I’m hoping to get back in there around July.”
Munoz is highly regarded throughout the MMA community for his positivity, and despite being faced with an unfortunate setback during a crucial point of his career, his resolve never wavered. He kept his spirits high, head down and returned to the process of improving himself in every aspect. He will continue to do so until the UFC calls with his next opponent, and he has every intention of picking up exactly where he left off after defeating Leben.
“This injury and the entire situation is just another challenge, another bump in the road for me to conquer,” Munoz said. “I’m going to stay positive, because that’s the one thing you can control. You can’t control what anybody else thinks, says or does – you can only control your emotions, actions and outlook. I’m not going to worry about the things beyond my scope of control, but I can definitely control my attitude and how I view this injury.
“It doesn’t matter to me who I fight next as long as it gets me closer to a title shot. I still feel like I’m one fight away from earning the opportunity, and when I come back I want whatever fight is going to get me where I want to be. If it’s Chris Weidman, Boetsch or Bisping – it doesn’t matter to me. I’m ready and I want a title shot.
“People are going to see the best Mark Munoz they’ve ever seen when I return, and I’m going to do everything I can to get that title around my waist.”