For those who haven’t been paying attention, Mark Munoz is on a bit of a roll.
A winner in four straight fights, the “Filipino Wrecking Machine” carved another notch into his belt on Saturday night, besting Chris Leben in the main event of UFC 138 at LG Arena in Birmingham, England.
“I knew I had to utilize angles against Chris Leben,” Munoz told UFC.com following his win. “I couldn’t go straight forward against him, because if I made it a brawling fight, he could catch me with a left hand. So, I had to change my levels and utilize my wrestling.”
In a wild 10 minutes of middleweight action, Munoz (Pictured, file photo) and Leben traded punches and takedowns, much to the delight of the live audience. Leben brought to the fight some of the sport’s most feared knockout power, as acknowledged by his opponent. Similarly, Munoz’s ground-and-pound has developed its own reputation as a potential fight-ender.
Unfortunately for Leben, it was Munoz’s tool that proved to be the superior weapon on Saturday, as he clipped Leben with a bruising right hook from top position that caused Leben to lose vision in his left eye. As a result, the referee waved off the contest at the conclusion of the second round.
“I didn’t want to get into a slugfest with him, because he’s been known to knock people out when you stand in front of him,” said Munoz. “I definitely wanted to go in and [strike and then] step out. Then he’d come in [to strike] and I’d get the takedown.”
Though two years the elder of his opponent, Munoz appeared the fresher man as the contest wore on and Leben took multiple heavy breaths late in the second frame.
“I knew he was dwindling through the rounds,” Munoz said. “I felt it after the first round, and then in the second round I just tried to pour it all on him and finish him.”
Though Munoz counts UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva among his training partners, the 33-year-old politely asked to be considered for a title shot in the near future.
“I’m here. I feel that I train extremely hard. I want to be the best in the division,” said Munoz. “I’m working my way up, and that fight, along with the fight before that one, gives me confidence that I can be the best in the division.”