Mark Munoz was originally scheduled to face Michael Bisping at Ultimate Fight Night 30, until the brash Brit was sidelined with an eye injury. The UFC was quick to shuffle Lyoto Machida in to the limelight, and Munoz vs. Machida was born.
Machida is coming off a very close, some might say controversial, decision loss to Phil Davis. The fight, which went down at UFC 163, was very close fought and many fans scored it for Machida. This is not an easy rebound fight for Machida, who was unlucky not to get another title shot after beating Ryan Bader and Dan Henderson.
Munoz is coming off a dominant three round beasting of Tim Boetsch at UFC 162, and will look to continue his good form against a difficult opponent in Machida. The Dragon’s awkward style makes him a tough opponent to emulate in training, but Munoz feels that his style is just as tricky. Check out what he had to say to Bleacherreport.com:
"Lyoto and I were planning on training together soon because he was fighting Tim Kennedy and I was fighting Bisping, but my opponent got injured, Lyoto stepped in, and now we are going to fight. He is a friend of mine and we have trained together in the past, but that isn't something I have a problem with. I've fought friends before and it's nothing personal.”
"Now, I'll make the adjustments in training and preparing for his style to make sure I'm ready when I step into that cage," he added. "It's an abrupt turn, and Machida has an unorthodox style that is difficult to duplicate, but at the same time, he's never faced anyone who fights the way I do either. It goes both ways in this situation. I only have three weeks to prepare for him, but he only has three weeks to prepare for me as well."
Machida will also be making his Middleweight debut to fight Munoz, another factor that needs to be considered in this equation. If the weight cut is too harsh for Machida, we might see him at 70 percent of his normal ability; something that would show against a dominant wrestler like Munoz.
The Philipino Wrecking Machine went to a very dark/chubby place following his 2012 loss to Chris Weidman. He ballooned in weight and fell in to a pit of depression, but has never looked stronger than his July return earlier this year.
"[Bisping] is the fight that I've been training for and actually waiting for some time to get," Munoz said. "Bisping has been in the top of the division for the majority of his career, and beating him puts me back into the title hunt. That's where I want to be."
"Lyoto is just coming down from light heavyweight and has never been in the division. He's a big name, and a win over him has the potential to put me up there for a title shot, but a win over Bisping would have for sure put me back in it. A win over Machida would do wonders for my career, but at the same time, I have one goal in mind and that is to get that title. I want to get back up into that title mix."
If Munoz is able to get past Machida, there’s a good chance that he will be fighting for a title in the not too distant future. His only loss in three years is to the current champion, and he will have the former LHW champion’s scalp on his record.
If Machida is able to get the win; who knows what the future will hold for the Karate master? Maybe a title run at 185? At age 35, Machida needs to really pull it out of the bag now, if he wants to hold UFC gold again. The same can be said for Munoz, also 35, who many believed was a legit title contender back in 2010/11.