When Mark Munoz first got into mixed martial arts as a 220-pounder he never imagined he might step into the cage against the world's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter down at middleweight.
Four years later he's sporting a 6-1 record in the UFC at 185 pounds and now Anderson Silva, a fighter he's worked with often, is squarely in his crosshairs. For the guy who serves as the wrestling guru for many of the Brazilian-based Southern California fighters it's an unusual situation.
After his win over Chris Leben at UFC 138, Munoz told the media that he's tight with the champ and that Silva helped him realize his "Bruce Lee moment."
Silva told him to relax and have fun during his fights. It all became clear for the Filipino-American.
"I got what he was talking about. If you go into the cage with negative emotions, you're going to fight with emotion instead of fighting with your gameplan. Instead of fighting intellectually," said Munoz (4:48 mark).
There's a laundry list of fighters waiting for a shot at the champ that includes Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping. Munoz is right behind them. If he could avoid disaster on the feet, Munoz's takedowns and aggressive ground and pound could give the champ loads of trouble. Why couldn't he execute a similar gameplan to what Chael Sonnen employed at UFC 117 against Silva?
Another important factor is the mental strength derived from training with Silva. You'd have to imagine, since Munoz has rolled with Silva hundreds of times, he wouldn't be intimidated as so many others have been against the Brazilian.