This Saturday night, Mark Munoz will be one part of the headliner at UFC 138 in the LG Arena in Birmingham, England with Chris Leben standing opposite from him in the cage. It’s a much anticipated event in the land of fish and chips because it marks the UFC‘s first trip back to England since last year. Though “The Crippler” has fought in Birmingham befor, and headlined, for Munoz this will be his first fight in the UK, his first headliner, and most importantly for him (and the UFC), it marks the organization’s first five round non-title fight.
Munoz, a military child born in Japan with Filipino/American parents, has impressive wrestling credentials. He is a two time All-American, two time conference champion, two time Academic All-American, AND a NCAA National Champion.
“I worked hard, very hard, to achieve the National Champion honors,” Munoz stated in a UFC video promoting the November 5 event.
Munoz credits his transition from wrestling into MMA to a sparring session against Randy Couture, explaining, “All I knew how to do was jab and shoot a double leg.” Then again, considering it was his very first sparring session ever, he seemed to find success in the one thing he knew how to do which caught the eye of the Hall of Fame fighter.
After the session was over, Couture suggested Munoz should consider a career in MMA, telling him, “You’re a natural”. The irony of being called a natural by one of the UFC’s all-time greats, also coincidentally nicknamed “The Natural”, didn’t slip by Munoz and from that point on he started incorporating Muay Thai and BJJ into his training routine.
With a young 11-2 record, Munoz will be put to the test against seasoned Leben who is known for his relentless forward aggression and an ability to take punishment. Leben is 22-7, only having been stopped by strikes at the limbs of to pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva and punches of Brian Stann, so needless to say Mark Munoz will have his hands full during the fight. Whether those paws are down by his sides or raised at the end of UFC 138 remains to be seen…
You can see Munoz talking about Couture, Leben, and a handful of other topics in the training video below courtesy of UFC.com:
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC