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Maggie Hendricks

Nice-guy Munoz ready to turn it on in the cage at UFC 108

Maggie Hendricks
Cagewriter

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If you've ever met UFC middleweight Mark Munoz, you'll find out what much of the MMA and wrestling world already know. He's one of the nicest guys on the planet.

Munoz is always willing to do another interview, sign another autograph, or speak at a camp. So how does someone this nice make his living as a fighter?

"I may be a nice guy, but once I step into that cage, I'm not nice any more. I think we wear a lot of hats in our lives, play a lot of roles," Munoz told Cagewriter. "When I step into the cage, it's all business in there. It's like I was in wrestling. When I was on the mat, I was going to put it on you, but when I was off the mat, I'll treat you with respect and dignity, and I expect the same thing from you."

Fighting in the UFC is a dream come true for Munoz. He mentioned on Twitter that a few years ago, he took a picture (above) in front of a Legoland MGM Grand. At that time, he told his wife that he was going to fight there one day. This Saturday's fights are at the MGM Grand.

Munoz will face Ryan Jensen, a more experienced fighter who won his last bout, a submission over Steve Steinbeiss.

"He's a well-rounded opponent," Munoz said. "He's got a lot of experience. He's very dangerous on his feet and on the ground as well. I'm improving drastically, and Ryan's a great opponent for me."

For this bout, Munoz has been training with some of the sport's best, including the Nogueira brothers and Anderson Silva. They worked out with him at Reign Gym, the Lake Forest, Calif. gym he opened with WEC star Urijah Faber.

As a family man, Munoz wasn't excited about the prospect of fighting around Christmas.

"I wish I wasn't fighting during the holidays, but it is what it is. I just have to bear down and have my Christmas after the fight. I'm going to save all the pie and all the stuff for later. I have to remain disciplined. It's part of my job. I've had to do it for a long time. I had to do it with wrestling, and this is no different."

Munoz credits the discipline he learned in wrestling, most notably as a Division I NCAA champion for Oklahoma State, for making him a better fighter.

"With wrestling, it's taught me a lot of life experiences, how to push through adversity, how to rise above. For whatever type of battle you have, just learning to push through it. I learned how to put the tough guy on the shelf when I'm out of the cage, because I'm not just a fighter. I'm a husband, I'm a family man, I'm a business owner, I'm a father, I'm a son. There's a lot of things that don't require punching people in the face and imposing your will on them. I think you've got to be a tender warrior."

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