The road to a UFC championship may seem just about impassable for Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Muñoz, but if you take a moment to analyze it, it really isn’t that inconceivable to think that the man looking to be MMA’s Manny Pacquiao could hold a title in 2012.
First off, the ever-improving Muñoz has to get past Chael Sonnen, the hard-nosed, fast-talking grinder that took UFC middleweight champion and the world’s best, Anderson Silva, to the brink of defeat at UFC 117 back in 2010 before succumbing to a triangle choke. Muñoz will likely be cast as the underdog against Sonnen – and rightly so, considering the way Sonnen blew through Brian Stann in October – but holds the advantage, however small, of having defeated Sonnen in competition during their college wrestling days.
It’s impossible to infer much in regards to MMA competition from a college wrestling match between the two, but it is possible that Muñoz has the wrestling chops to keep Sonnen from dragging him to the mat, where he does most of his best work via ground and pound, and heavy-handed, competent enough stand-up to hang with him on the feet. Muñoz has the ability to make this fight much more difficult for Chael Sonnen than many may expect and their January, UFC on Fox 2 meeting may very well end with Muñoz getting his hand raised and a shot at Anderson Silva.
The same Anderson Silva that Muñoz has coached wrestling to in the past through his ties with Black House. Muñoz has spent frequent time on the mat with The Spider, thoroughly breaking down the weakest aspect of his game. It is absolutely conceivable that Muñoz found holes in that regard that he can exploit, and could follow a similar path to the one Sonnen laid to nearly defeat Silva, but do so with a much more intimate knowledge of Silva’s ground game and actually finish the job.
Of course, it all hinges on his UFC on Fox 2 date with Sonnen, which takes place on January 28 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.