Before an injury forced him out of his bout with Chael Sonnen in January on the UFC on FOX 2 card, UFC middleweight Mark Munoz was on one hell of a roll. He had won four straight fights including wins over Chris Leben, former UFC Middleweight Championship contender Demian Maia, C.B. Dolloway and Aaron Simpson. In fact, since coming over to the UFC from the WEC, Munoz has a record of 7-2, with his only losses coming to light heavyweight Matt Hamill and another former number one contender in Yushin Okami. Munoz has become the guy that no other middleweight wants to fight.
The bout with Sonnen was to determine who would go on to face current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, but as fate would have it, Munoz was unable to soldier on with injuries he had been fighting with for a long time. Being the man and the fighter that he is, Munoz chooses to look at the time off as a blessing and despite being 34 years old; he knows that the time off was something his body and his mind really needed. Munoz knows even the toughest warriors have to know when to say when.
“I feel great. I’m training and sparring, I feel really good,” said an excited Munoz in an interview with MMAFrenzy. “For the past few years I’ve had problems with my elbow. I kept ignoring it until they found out I had some bone spurs after my fight with Chris Leben. My elbow was throbbing and the pain was so great, my doctors told me I needed surgery, but by that time I was already informed of the fight with Sonnen for the FOX 2 card and I didn’t want to pass up that opportunity. While I was training my elbow popped and it felt a lot worse than it ever had before. I tried to work through it, but it was too much to bear. I tried to pick up my gym bag and I couldn’t even lift it.
“It turns out that those bone spurs had made their way into my joints. They ended up pulling out 24 pieces of bone six of which were a centimeter and a half in diameter,” Munoz continued. “I was so disappointed afterwards because I had been waiting to get a title shot for a long time, but everything happens for a reason and now I am coming back stronger than before. There is still a little bit of pain, but it’s only been a few months so that’s to be expected. I am definitely looking forward to getting back inside the Octagon and continuing on towards a shot at the championship. I fought eight times in three years; the fight with Sonnen would’ve been my ninth fight in 26 months. I’m not sure when I’ll be back for sure, but my doctors are optimistic about being able to fight in July.”
When Munoz does make his way back to the Octagon there are rumors flying around that an opponent has already been selected. Unbeaten Chris Weidman is the man that many people feel Munoz will face when he comes back and that bout would certainly be an interesting one with certain title implications behind it. Weidman last fought Maia on the FOX 2 card as a replacement for Michael Bisping who stepped into the co-main event slot opposite Sonnen.
“I have been hearing those same rumors as well,” admitted Munoz. “I feel like I match him up against him really well. He has great stand-up and he is a solid wrestler who takes people down and uses top control to force his will on them. He has good BJJ and is always looking for submissions and chokes. I am definitely looking forward to that fight if it does happen. I want to fight someone who makes sense, someone who is going to get me closer to a title shot. I feel like I have earned that opportunity and by defeating someone of Weidman’s caliber I believe I would deserve a title shot.”