Losing two of his last three bouts, Mark Munoz needs a win in the worst way.
That's according to "Filipino Wrecking Machine," who told FOX Sports that his upcoming fight against Gegard Mousasi -- which headlines UFC Fight Night 41 from Berlin, Germany, this weekend (Sat., May 31, 2014) on UFC Fight Pass -- is a "very, very important fight."
That's because a win over "Dream Catcher" will help him avoid the dreaded "gatekeeper" label in Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) Middleweight division.
"I don't want to be known as a gatekeeper, nobody does. You want to be known as the best in the weight class, in the division, so I understand that. Gegard and I are both high up there on the list and with a win over Gegard, it's definitely going to stamp my place to put my name in the hat as a No. 1 contender. I'm not going to say this fight is not important, it's very, very important. I want to win it in the biggest way possible."
In his last outing, Munoz was knocked out by friend and former training partner Lyoto Machida in round one at UFC Fight Night 30 in Oct. 2013 (watch highlights here). It was a fight that saw Munoz -- who had previously defeated Tim Boetsch via unanimous decision at UFC 162 -- fail to land a single strike.
Ironically, the last two men who defeated Munoz (Chris Wiedman and Machida) are now sitting atop of the weight class as "All American" is now the division title holder, while "The Dragon" -- the No. 1 contender -- looks to dethrone him on July 5, 2014, at UFC 175.
While some fighters have the luxury to be able to solely concentrate on their fighting careers, Munoz does not. "Filipino Wrecking Machine" has found that balancing his fight career with all of his duties outside of the Octagon has proven to be quite a challenge, causing some to believe his full plate has affected his performances inside the cage.
And even though Munoz would never use that an excuse, he admits it's tough to juggle everything. But, he has made it a point to fully focus on the task at hand this Saturday.
"I truly have a lot of roles in my life and I'm not going to say it's easy because it's very hard. I've given a lot of myself because not only do I train mixed martial arts and I'm one of the top fighters in the UFC, but I run Reign (Training Center) but I have an anti-bullying campaign, I have a 6-12 training program, which caters to at risk teens and underprivileged youth, I'm a father to four kids, I have a wife and all their activities, there's a lot that I do. I have to balance all that. It's very challenging, but I'm getting better with it. I feel that I've learned this in trying to do all this, people say you need to prioritize your schedule but I think you really need to schedule your priorities."
Admitting he is a very giving person who often puts people before himself, Munoz says friends like Brendan Schaub have often told him it's okay to not be so giving and focus on himself from time-to-time, which is exactly what he plans to do when as he battles a man who has proven to be one of the best 185-pound fighters in the world.
Anyone think Munoz can get over the hump and get back in the win column against Mousasi?