Munoz ready for title shot after dispatching Chris Leben at UFC 138
The Filipino Wrecking Machine lived up to his nickname in the main event of UFC 138 with a brutal destruction of Chris Leben. Showing his customary strong wrestling skills combined with ground and pound strikes which resemble the swinging of a sledgehammer, he forced a bloodied Leben to quit on his stool at the end of the second round.
The adopted Hawaiian had previously been checked by the cageside doctor for cuts around his left eye, but later complained that he was choking on his own blood following a ruthlessly efficient performance from the middleweight contender, who has now won his last four fights – all of which were against high-level competition.
Both fighters in the main event had spoken in the build-up to the fight about it being a number-one contenders fight for Anderson Silva’s belt. While the UFC hierarchy never specifically confirmed it, they did not shy away from publicizing the comments.
They were happy to use them to hype an event which was struggling to generate buzz on a worldwide level, sandwiched as it was between Nick Diaz’s beatdown of BJ Penn and next week’s debut on Fox in the United States.
However, after Munoz delivered as big a statement as her could have done in the circumstances and used his post-fight chat with Joe Rogan to underline his ambition, the company was more realistic with their immediate priorities and poured cold water on his hopes.
“I didn’t hear his interview, but he’s won some tough fights and we’ll see what happens,” said a non-committal White.
After the delayed victor walked in the press conference and the UFC president was posed the same question, he added: “You’ve got Munoz, you’ve got [Michael] Bisping, you’ve got guys like Chael Sonnen and possibly Dan Henderson at 185 so we’ll see how this whole thing pans out.”
It would be fair to ascertain that Munoz challenging for the title is not at the top of their agenda. If a more marketable fighter had pulled off the same wining streak – which includes a win over former contender Demian Maia – then possibly, but there are currently bigger voices out there making more noise than him.
“I thought that was an awesome fight. He came with it and I was just trying to knock his head off,” Munoz said. “I tried my best and he just took the punches. I hit him so hard I think I broke my knuckle. He’s got a granite chin. I wanted to test it and I did.
“I’m a persistent dude. I’m going to keep hitting him until he falls. That’s what I train for. I train to do that. I told you that Donkey Kong was going to come out when I got on top and that’s what I did. I think I proved a point in that fight.”
With Munoz behind at least one person in Sonnen in the queue to get to Silva – and possibly Bisping and Henderson as well – the reality is that he will have to win one or two more high-profile fights before he can step into the cage with the personal friend he used to train with at the Black House training centre in Brazil.
When, or if, the time comes, he has no doubt he will be ready.
“I hit hard on top and I’m confident in my game,” he said. “I feel that I beaten two top five opponents, I train harder than anyone I know and I want to be the best. I want to be a world champion plain and simple.
“I trained with Anderson. He’s a good friend of mine, but I came to the UFC because I want to be the best and unfortunately he has the belt. I would love to be the world champ. That’s why I train, that’s why I’m in the best organization in the world. All respect goes to him, but at the same time I want to get that top spot.
“Over at Reign Training Centre we train hard, we’re making a name for our gym and I feel like I’ve arrived. I’m ready to take down whoever comes in my way.”