UFC middleweight contender Mark Munoz thought he would be facing off against Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC Fight Night 30 from the Phones 4u Arena in Manchester.
Those plans were unfortunately derailed when Bisping required surgery for a detached retina. Instead, he’ll be fighting friend and former training partner Lyoto Machida in “The Dragon’s” first foray at middleweight.
The change in plans created an interesting new dynamic for “The Filipino Wrecking Machine,” who knows that he has to put all friendship aside to keep his momentum rolling at UFN 30. Munoz recently got back on track against Tim Boetsch at UFC 162 after going through a well-documented struggle with weight gain and depression after his vicious TKO loss to Chris Weidman in July 2012.
Munoz recently met up with MMAInterviews.tv to discuss fighting his friend in Manchester:
“It took me by surprise that all of the sudden I’m fighting Lyoto Machida. Total different fight, total different approach and preparation, but you literally have to roll with the punches. We were training two days before, and all of the sudden, we’re slated to fight each other. We had spoken to each other, and we’re like, ‘We’ll put 25 minutes aside and the winner buys dinner.’ Lyoto is very strategic in what he does. I’m going to be able to corral him and restrict him in his space and not allow him to use the whole cage. I’ll be in shape to go five rounds.”
Munoz did appear in excellent shape in July, but Machida promises to be a much more difficult fighter to figure out than Boetsch. Machida could come into UFN 30 as a big middleweight, but he’s always been a small light heavyweight. “The Dragon” has proved that he can hang with many top-level wrestlers in the past, most recently against Phil Davis in the co-main event of UUFC 163.
Although Machida lost that fight by controversial decision, he was largely able to avoid “Mr. Wonderful’” takedowns, an impressive feet considering Davis’ credentials as an NCAA wrestling champion.
The knock on Machida has been that he fights too tentatively by waiting for an opportunity to counterstrike. If that window never opens up, he appears too passive in the eyes of the judges. That won’t fly here, as Munoz will most definitely push a frenetic pace by taking the fight to Machida. Who is your pick to take the home the win in Manchester?