In Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), a single loss could ruin a whole lot of promise. Mark Munoz, a Middleweight with the world's best mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, had to learn this at the hands of current 185-pound champion Chris Weidman, when the pair met at UFC on Fuel TV 4 in July 2012.
After being utterly dominated for the first five minutes of the bout, Munoz was finished in brutal fashion by a counter elbow followed by a frenzy punches on the ground. The bout had been a stark contrast to Munoz's previous performances, as he stepped into the fight after reeling off four straight wins over Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway, Demian Maia and Chris Leben successively.
Munoz seemed to be on the fast-track to a 185-pound title shot, but he was unable to get the marquee win that would take him there.
The result sent him into a depression, packing on the pounds and falling terribly out of fighting shape. However, he soon realized that if he wanted to achieve anything in fighting, he'd have to devote himself to the sport once again, and he came into his next fight with Boetsch in the best shape he had ever been in his UFC career.
The bout showed that Munoz is once again ready to put himself on the map as a Middleweight contender and that he is still able to develop his skills as a fighter. His wrestling was overwhelming for Boetsch, who is known to be a strong, effective grappler. And his lauded ground-and-pound was on full display in just about every position from which he could throw it. The result showed Munoz to be the markedly better fighter and a true threat to anyone in the Middleweight Top 10.
Munoz was originally scheduled to fight Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 30 this afternoon at Phones 4U Arena in Manchester, England, a match up that appeared to be fairly even. However, after Bisping had to pull out of the main event because of an eye injury, Munoz received a new opponent who is an even tougher test for him, Lyoto Machida.
Munoz will be the man to welcome the former Light Heavyweight champion to the Middleweight division, and there are many interesting things to note about this fight. One main point of interest is that these two have trained together extensively, as Munoz has often been called upon to help Black House fighters prepare for wrestlers. Another thing to note is the experience of these two fighters, as Machida is undoubtedly the best striker Munoz has faced in his career, but "The Dragon" has faced many wrestlers around or above the ability of "Filipino Wrecking Machine" in his preferred style of wrestling.
This fight comes down to many different factors, and it is up to Munoz to capitalize on what he's been given. Knowing Machida's training regimen, I expect him to have some knowledge of how to take him on, but he must be aware that the Brazilian knows how he operates, too.
Considering that Machida's camp was geared toward a previously scheduled fight against Tim Kennedy, which was planned 1.5 weeks after this event, Munoz should do his best to push a frenetic pace to take advantage of Machida's camp having to end early. Staying in Machida's face and not giving him room to breathe could pay dividends if Munoz plays his cards right. Munoz showed in his last fight that he is capable of proving doubters very wrong, and if he fights in a similar fashion against Machida, I believe this could be anyone's fight.
Munoz has a very tough opponent standing in his way, one who may be the toughest he will have faced yet aside from Weidman. He has to be ready to fight to his fullest potential against Machida because anything less would probably see him get destroyed. He needs to seize this situation because Machida will be coming into a new division for a short-notice fight halfway across the world.
If Munoz pulls off an upset here, he'll be in prime position to become a force in the Middleweight division and may be able to even work his way up to a long-awaited title shot.