WITH the chance to fight in his hometown serving as prime motivation, MMA fighter Mark Munoz returns to the octagon to battle Brazilian Roan Carneiro in a three-round middleweight bout in UFC 184 pay-per-view on Sunday (Manila time) at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to put up its first show in the Philippines on May 16 at the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City and Munoz, known as the 'Filipino Wrecking Machine,' has made no secret of his desire to be part of the trail-blazing event.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time for this to happen and will not miss it.” Muñoz said in a story posted on his own website.
But to seal his place in the historic UFC Fight Night card in Manila, the Fil-American fighter needs to overcome a slew of injuries as well as a string of losses and prove that he is still a force to be reckoned with in the world's premier MMA organization at the age of 37.
To do that, he needs no less than an impressive victory over Carneiro, a 36-year-old Brazilian who regained a contract with the UFC after winning three straight fights in one night in Battle Grounds MMA after tallying a measly 2-3 win-loss record in his first UFC run in 2007-2008.
“He (Carneiro) is a good fighter. It is very important for me to get a good finish. I need to make a statement because this fight is going to be indicative to where I am going in the division,” Muñoz said.
After scoring four straight wins in the middleweight division, Muñoz lost his title contender status to now reigning champion Chris Weidman in a second round knockout in 2012. He got a win against Tim Boetsch but lost back-to-back fights to good friend Lyoto Machida in 2013 and middleweight stalwart Gegard Mousasi.
Worse, he was sidelined almost a year after he tapped from Mousasi’s rear-naked-choke. With his medial collateral ligament (MCL) torn and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) strained, Muñoz needed more than a year to recover and get back in the octagon for the Carneiro fight.
One thing certain, Munoz is looking forward to being part of the Manila card.
“From the culture, to the dress, to the language, that’s what I represent.” Munoz said of his Filipino roots.