Will the injury to Mark Munoz cost him a spot in the middleweight rankings?

via cdn2.sbnation.com

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Mark Munoz underwent successful surgery last Thursday (Jan. 19, 2012) to remove bone spurs and floating "chips" on and around his elbow.

The injury forced "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" to withdraw from his UFC on FOX 2 match-up against Chael Sonnen, paving the way for British bad boy Michael Bisping to step up and get his shot. "The Count" had to abandon Demian Maia to do it, but Chris Weidman was more than willing to step in and take his place.

After the dust settles on the Jan. 28 event at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, we could have a number one contender for the 185-pound title in either Sonnen or Bisping. And we could have the next in line after them with the winner of Maia vs. Weidman.

So what happens to Munoz?

He was expected to be next in line for Anderson Silva's belt with a win over Sonnen, but does his withdrawal cost him his spot in line? Or does it pave the way for a title elimator fight against Maia or Weidman?

Munoz talks to Inside MMA, after the jump.

"I hope [the injury] doesn't drop me down [the rankings]. I've done all I can to get to where I'm at. I'm on a four-fight winning streak and I feel like I've paid my dues but unfortunately this happened to me. I hope it doesn't drop me down. I would want one more fight (before fighting for the title). That's what I wanna do, but I hope they don't drop me down more than that."

A fight against Maia would be a rematch from their June 2011 bout, which was close enough to justify a second go-round, whereas a bout opposite Weidman would be a fresh match-up in this rapidly thinning division.

Hear more from Munoz on his elbow surgery below:

What say you Maniacs, where do you put Munoz in his first fight back from rehab?

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