Mark Munoz just continues to work his way into the picture for bigger and better things each time he steps foot inside the Octagon.
Munoz, who has won three straight fights since a split decision loss to middleweight No. 1 contender Yushin Okami in 2010, will meet Chris Leben in the first non-title fight five round UFC main event at UFC 138 in England on Nov. 5.
Munoz (11-2) recently took time out of his training to discuss Leben, avenging the loss of a training partner and doing battle overseas.
For the former Oklahoma State University standout wrestler, preparing for a fighter of Leben’s quality is nothing new. Already this year, Munoz has defeated former title-contender Demian Maia and claimed a knockout victory over The Ultimate Fighter alum C.B. Dollaway.
“I am very excited for this fight,” Munoz said. “I know Chris Leben will come with everything he has. He is an excellent brawler that has evolved as a mixed martial artist. He is gonna bring the heat, and I am gonna bring the heat. This fight is going to be nothing short of fireworks.”
While that statement may confuse some in the MMA world, it is a testament to just how much Munoz wants to become a great fighter and not just a great wrestler that does MMA. Instead of relying completely on his ground game, Munoz has worked hard to get better at the stand-up and is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“Chris Leben poses a lot of threats with his left hand,” Munoz said. “I am gonna go out there and take it to him. I am going to make sure I execute my technique and enforce my will.”
Leben worked his way into this fight after delivering a bone-crunching knockout loss to Wanderlei Silva. Silva is a close friend and workout partner of Munoz, so that factor could come into play in England.
“I have thought about avenging Wanderlei’s loss, but, at the same time, I want to go out there and win the fight,” Munoz said. “I am looking to force my will, do the things I do best, and drag him to the deep end and drown him.”
Fighting outside of the United States isn’t anything new to Munoz either, as he has competed in Canada and made the trip to Abu Dhabi with the UFC last year.
“I really don’t mind going overseas because it actually gets me more prepared,” Munoz said. “When I went over to Abu Dhabi, I was more focused on my weight cut and everything else, and I performed better. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
This fight hasn’t been labeled at No. 1 contenders bout, but with the added two rounds, the main event status and the impressive resumes of both fighters, it is obviously an important bout.
“I know that with every win from here on out, I am getting closer to a title shot,” Munoz said. “A win over Chris Leben’s is a step closer. Obviously, what we do in this industry, we don’t want to be mediocre. We want to shoot for the top. We want to get that title.”