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UFC Fight Night 66 fight card: Mark Munoz vs Luke Barnatt full fight preview

Mark Munoz and Luke Barnatt will battle this Saturday (May 16, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 66 inside Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines. In a match up between veteran versus up-and-comer, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight standouts Mark Munoz and Luke Barnatt will clash this Saturday (May 16, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 66 inside Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.

Judging by his recent performances, it's been clear that Munoz's career was coming to a close. "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" recognizes this, stating that this will be his final performance in the Octagon. In front of some of his biggest fans, Munoz hopes to go out on a high note.

After starting his UFC career with three straight wins and gaining a fair bit of momentum, Barnatt has fallen on some hard times. He's lost his last two fights via debatable split decisions, which leaves him in an undesirable position.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both fighters:

Mark Munoz
Record: 13-6
Key Wins: Demian Maia (UFC 131), Chris Leben (138), Tim Boetsch (UFC 162)
Key Losses: Chris Weidman (UFC on Fuel TV 4), Lyoto Machida (UFC Fight Night 30), Gegard Mousasi (UFC FIght Night 41)
Keys to Victory: Munoz is a highly-credentialed wrestler known for his vicious ground strikes. While there's always been a bit of a disconnect between his striking and wrestling, he's also quite powerful on his feet as well.

In this upcoming match up, Munoz absolutely has to drag his opponent to the mat. Against a lanky opponent who fires off lots of straight punches, Munoz's looping "Donkey Kong" punches will probably be largely ineffective. Plus, Munoz isn't exactly durable anymore, so he doesn't want to get in lots of exchanges.

Instead, Munoz shouldn't waste any time in firing off double-leg takedowns. Assuming Munoz is in shape, he should be able to continuously wrestle with his opponent. In addition, Munoz should be the physically stronger fighter, meaning exchanges in close should favor him.

If Munoz is able to complete the takedown, he's in a great position to do serious damage. Barnatt has not proven to be a submission threat from his back, so Munoz should be able to open up and drop his trademark "Donkey Kong" punches.


Luke Barnatt
Record: 8-2
Key Wins: Andrew Craig (UFC Fight Night 30), Mats Nilsson (UFC Fight Night 38)
Key Losses: Roger Narvaez (UFC Fight Night 57), Sean Strickland (UFC Fight Night 41)
Keys to Victory: Barnatt is a large middleweight in the midst of a style change. In his last two fights, he's looked to work from distance with lots of jabs and movement, which hasn't yet worked out for him. Prior, "Bigslow" would step to his opponent with hard combinations and attack from the clinch.

In this bout, Barnatt's development into a rangier striker may finally pay off. Engaging in a close range battle with the former wrestling champion would be a tough battle, while forcing Munoz to shoot from the edge of Barnatt's lengthy reach would give him plenty of opportunities.

Recently, it seems that Munoz is far too willing to simply shoot for a takedown from very far distances. It's easy to counter and has led to Munoz getting abused by both strikes and submissions.

Considering Barnatt's range, he should just look to stall until Munoz takes an ill-advised shot. From there, he can sprawl out pretty easily, and Munoz will continue to try and wrestle from terrible positions. When that happens, Munoz leaves really big openings.

Barnatt just has to capitalize.

Bottom Line: This will likely be the last professional bout of Munoz's career, while there's a chance Barnatt gets cut with a loss.

The stakes are high for both men.

Obviously, Munoz would love to go out on a win. Munoz may not have ever become a champion, but he had a solid career as a contender, so it would be a disappointment to exit on a loss to a fairly unheralded fighter. Plus, the Filipino fans have long been big supporters of Munoz, and he wouldn't want to disappoint them.

Meanwhile, Barnatt could be on the edge of being cut. After a strong start, "Bigslow" finds himself on a losing streak against less than elite competition. This is likely do-or-die for the Brit, so he should be particularly motivated.

On the bright side, Munoz -- despite his decline -- could be the biggest win of Barnatt's young career.

At UFC Fight Night 66, Mark Munoz and Luke Barnatt will collide in the Philippines. Which man will have his hand raised?

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