Mark Muñoz may not get the next title shot against UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva per his request, but he did make a big statement last night with his victory over Chris Leben.
Mu˜noz engaged the vaunted battler in the stand-up game for a good portion of the first round, taking shots and giving them back just as well, if not better, than Leben. He was surprised by a pair of takedown attempts by Leben in the early going, but recovered quickly from both and kept the fight in his opponent’s face. The momentum began to turn when Muñoz was able to plant Leben on the mat and keep him there, firing off ground and pound all the while.
Displaying some absolutely fearsome power in his ground punches, Muñoz kept up his pace and battered Leben throughout the second round. It wasn’t enough to separate The Crippler from consciousness – though it appeared close on more than one occasion – but it was enough to cancel the vision in his left eye, forcing his corner to call a halt to the bout in between the second and third frames.
“I thought it was a bad fight, it was an awesome fight,” Muñoz said at the post-fight presser. “I came with it and was just trying to knock his head off. I tried my best and he just took the punches. I hit him so hard I think I broke my knuckle, it’s swelling a bit. I hit him so hard.”
Muñoz freely admits being impressed by Leben’s chin, but said that he was more than ready to go the full five rounds to test it further had the fight not been stopped.
“He’s got a freaking granite chin. I wanted to test it and I did,” he said. “I’m a persistent dude, I’m gonna keep hitting him until he falls. That’s what I train for. I train to do that. I told you that Donkey Kong was gonna come out when I get on top and that’s what I did, Donkey Kong came out.”
UFC 138 went down from the LG Arena in Birmingham, England.