MARK Muñoz is not letting his talent that’s uncommon to Filipino mixed martial artists go to waste.
After winning his farewell fight in UFC Fight Night Manila on Saturday night, the US-raised full-blooded Filipino fighter bared his plan to become a wrestling coach in the Philippines someday.
“Wrestling is a discipline that I think the Philippines needs,” Muñoz said after dominating Luke Barnatt by sticking to what he does best in the first staging of the world’s No. 1 MMA organization in the country.
“Striking is good, jiu-jitsu is good, but I think wrestling is deficient a little bit…and I have a talent, a gift, ability,” said the 37-year-old former middleweight contender, who has been wrestling since he was 13.
A two-time All-American and an NCAA champion wrestler for Oklahoma State, Muñoz has had experience as an assistant coach after graduating, two years for his alma mater, then five years for University of California, Davis, before going into MMA full time.
“I just love coaching,” Muñoz said. “I love taking kids and seeing their skills, and being able to transform their skills and add to them and not change them at all.”
And Pinoy fighters certainly could use Muñoz’s help. While they’ve managed to dominate opponents with their striking alone in the local scene, Filipino standouts prove there’s still plenty to learn after getting outclassed on the ground in the international stage.
The two homegrown Pinoys in the 12-fight card, Mark Eddiva and Roldan Sangcha-an, both wushu standouts, lost their respective bouts.
But Muñoz, who showcased his wrestling prowess against Barnatt by taking his 6-foot-6 foe to school with takedowns and ground-and-pound, believes the future is bright for the Philippines in MMA.
“All the Filipino fighters on this card, there’s so much talent here in the Philippines and I feel that their skills — mabilis ang suntok at malakas ang sipa — they’re good,” the six-foot Muñoz said. “So I want to take the good fighters and develop them in wrestling and take the sport up a notch here.”
“For me, it’s just connecting the dots,” the 'Filipino Wrecking Machine' was quick to add. “Wrestling is the glue that keeps everything together — you can take people down and you can stop shots too.”
“So babalik ako soon,” the Lake Forest, California-based Muñoz, who traces his Pinoy roots to Bicol, smiled.