IT’S a homecoming and a farewell at the same time.
Mark Muñoz is set to see action in the maiden offering of Ultimate Fighting Championship in the Philippines as he takes on Luke Barnatt of England in UFC Fight Night Manila on May 16 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UFC Asia executive vice president Ken Berger announced the development on Tuesday during a press conference that further promoted the historic event bannered by the main event between former champions Frankie Edgar and Urijah Faber.
"This is what I've been waiting for," said Muñoz, born to Filipino parents in Japan, but grew up in California. "And I’m not going to miss it."
But the Filipino mixed martial artist bared it will be his "last fight" after seven years of campaigning in the world's premier MMA organization.
Muñoz, known in the UFC as the “Filipino Wrecking Machine”, seeks to end his career with a bang as he is coming off a three-fight skid, the latest a knockout defeat at the hands of Jucao Carnerio just last week in UFC 184 in Los Angeles.
But the 37-year-old middleweight standout is facing a younger and taller foe in Barnatt, a 26-year-old 6-foot-6 rising star who has won eight of his 10 fights, although he has lost his last two.
“I’m in good shape now and I’m confident,” Muñoz said. “I’m not injured going into this fight unlike in others.”
Muñoz leads the Pinoys in the card that will also feature Mark Eddiva, Roldan Sangcha-an, and Phillipe Nover.
While Sangcha-an collides with Jon delos Reyes in a flyweight fight announced earlier, Eddiva, a Team Lakay product from Baguio, will take on Alex White in featherweight bout, while the Filipino-American Nover, a former The Ultimate Fighter finalist, faces Nam Yui Chul in another featherweight bout.