By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Mark Munoz wanted a submission victory against his opponent Ryan Jensen in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) match on Jan. 2, in Las Vegas.
He did not get it.
Instead, Munoz, nicknamed the Filipino Wrecking Machine, won his second UFC match by making Jensen crumble under a rain of Munoz’s punches two and a half minutes into the first round.
“I was so overjoyed with excitement that I didn’t know how to act in the cage,” said Munoz of his first round technical knockout. His impressive victory prompted a post-match locker room visit from UFC Commissioner Dana White, who praised his performance.
Munoz has won his last two UFC fights and has a 2–1 UFC record. The 31-year-old’s recent success is a stark contrast from his UFC debut when he was knocked out by Mark Hamill.
“Training camp was troublesome,” Munoz recalled. Munoz had a herniated disc and sciatica through his right leg and big toe. On top of that, eight days before the fight, he suffered a bad concussion during training. Instead of pulling out of the fight, Munoz decided to go forward in order to provide for his family. But with the loss, Munoz was able to learn from his mistakes.
Only in his second year of full-time mixed martial arts training, Munoz works out with the elite Team Black House in Southern California. Munoz’s training partners include Antonio Minotauro Noguiera, his twin brother Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, fellow Filipino American Brandon Vera, Jason Lambert, “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal, and current UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
“It’s incredible to delve into [Silva’s] psyche and his mentality when he spars and goes into the cage,” said Munoz of the middleweight champion. “I haven’t sparred with him going 100 percent. I’m not sure if I want to,” Munoz joked.
“Amazing” is how Munoz describes his training experiences at the gym. “Their warmness, personality, [and] family atmosphere make it pretty cool,” Munoz said. The elite team of martial artists has given Munoz the nickname of “coach” for giving his insight on wrestling skills to the team. Munoz was a former All-American wrestling champion at Oklahoma State University and holds wrestling camps for youths in California.
While he was able to incorporate Team Black House into his workouts, Munoz could not continue training with boxing coach Freddie Roach, the trainer for Filipino boxing star Manny Pacquiao. Munoz explained that his family obligations as well as the long commute from his home in Orange County to Roach’s Los Angeles gym made it difficult.
In addition to training, Munoz, like most fighters, must cut his weight to make the 185 pound limit at middleweight. After weigh-ins the day before the fight with Jensen, Munoz stated that he gained 22 pounds overnight with the help of professionals.
As a proud Filipino American, Munoz wore fight shorts with the Philippine flag the United States flag during his fight. “They are two very important sides to me and I am proud to be both,” Munoz said. He also includes a bible verse on his shorts as a source of inspiration.
After his first UFC win in August 2009 in Portland, Ore., Munoz and his family visited Seattle. His only regret about the trip was not being able to visit the grave of Bruce Lee. Lee was a martial artist that Munoz looked up to. His favorite tourist attraction was the Ride the Ducks tour near the Space Needle because it gave his wife and four kids a chance to see a lot of the city.
In addition to his budding UFC career, Munoz is the co-owner of Reign Gym in Orange County, Calif. Munoz and Team Black House worked out at the gym prior to his fight. The gym teaches all facets of mixed martial arts and conditioning for the public. ♦
For more information, visit markmunoz.net or twitter.com/markkmunoz.
Jason Cruz can be reached at email@example.com.