Since making the drop down to middleweight, Mark Munoz has found quite a bit of success, racking up six wins to only one loss. His most recent victory, a decision over former title contender Demain Maia, has him thinking of bigger and better things.
The truly bright lights are in his sights, he just needs another big win or two to bask in the glow of them.
When perusing the 185-pound division, there's one name that sticks out like a sore thumb as a possible next opponent for "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" -- Chris Leben. At least, that's what he and his camp want (via ESPN):
"At this point we've talked about a few people and Chris Leben's name came up, coming off a big win. That is definitely a fight Mark would be interested in. There are a lot of good fights for Mark at 185. But we would definitely be interested in Chris Leben. He's not calling him out or anything. Mark just wants to fight the next guy who will get him closer to a title shot."
Hard to argue with the logic. There's just one problem: Leben's camp doesn't feel the same ... at all.
"Let's say Vitor Belfort beats [Yoshihiro] Akiyama, that fight [with Belfort] makes sense to me. Vitor is somebody near the top of the division. He's a guy who has accomplished a little more than Mark at this point. Mark has everything to gain by beating Chris Leben or a Brian Stann at this point, but it's not necessarily the same thing in the opposite way."
That's what Leben's manager, Malki Kawa, had to say regarding the prospect of a match-up between his client and Munoz.
Sure, he's a damn good fighter who presents plenty of interesting challenges -- but he's no Vitor Belfort.
Of course, options may be limited for both parties now that Chael Sonnen has been booked to get busy against Brian Stann and the Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami clash still has yet to occur.
There have been rumors floating of a potential 185-pound fight between Leben and Josh Koscheck but there has yet to be any valid information to substantiate those talks.
Basically, Munoz vs. Leben looks like it's the best choice for all involved, like it or not.
But do you like it? Or would you rather wait for the winner of the Belfort vs. Akiyama fight at UFC 133 on Aug. 6?