Your victory over Chris Leben at UFC 138 was your most brutal win yet. Do you save your best work for main events?
Yeah man, I feel that I’ve improved my style, and I’ve been working extensively on finishing people and learning how to create more power with my punches—both on my feet and on the ground.
In a video of you hitting mitts at your gym—Reign Training Center—a training partner of yours joked that the shirt you were wearing didn’t fit two weeks before. How big do you usually get between fights?
I get to about 230 lbs. I get pretty big.
What’s the main culprit behind all that weight gain?
Filipino food. Well, Filipino food, Mexican food, Japanese food. I love sushi, In-N-Out Burger, BJ’s Pizza, and pretty much everything. I love food.
You have four children. Are you not stopping until you can field an entire wrestling team?
No, we’re done. We’re done at four. We are at that point where we have a four-year-old and a 12-year-old. That’s a big span in between. You can’t really enjoy your kids if you have more than four. I want to be able to enjoy my daughter before she goes off to college. So, we’re stopping.
You are easily one of the nicest guys outside of the cage. Do you enjoy the minutes you spend inside the Octagon?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I enjoy fighting. I enjoy competition. That’s the kind of guy I am, and I just so happen to be a mixed martial artist. Minutes before I enter the Octagon, I’m as nervous as heck. I’m asking myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ I have those thoughts. When I get inside the Octagon, my mind takes control on what I’ve been working on. I just love the aspect of putting things together and transitioning into what I’ve been working on. I love the challenge. That’s what I love. That’s what I did as a college wrestler and it’s applying now.
You made it clear that you’re willing to put your friendship with Anderson Silva on hold to fight for the title. What is your opinion of fighters that say they won’t fight their friends?
I wouldn’t say that I would put our friendship on hold. We’ll be friends throughout time and even throughout that fight. It’s a touchy situation because, if he’s not the UFC Middleweight Champion, I wouldn’t want to fight him. I wouldn’t want to say that I want to fight Anderson. And I don’t want to fight him. He is a friend. I consider him a true friend, but I want to be the champion. This is competition. This is what we get into the sport for—to become the top fighter in the world. That was my intent when I joined the UFC. I wanted to be the world champ. Friends fighting friends? If you have to, do it. But do it in a way that’s professional and not in a way that hurts your friendship. I come from the sport of wrestling, and you wrestle your friends all the time. To me, it’s about the competition.
What is Mark Munoz’s greatest fear?
That I wouldn’t be an adequate father. That I wouldn’t be able to provide for my family. That’s my ultimate fear. That I wouldn’t live up to my expectations as a father, as a husband, as a son, as a coach. I’m trying to fulfill the expectations that I set for myself in my life.
You’re a great wrestler, successful MMA fighter, father, gym owner—any regrets so far in your young life?
No, I have no regrets. You make decisions and you go through with those decisions. If you make mistakes, so be it. Fix those mistakes and make sure that you never do them again.
Explain to Dana White why you deserve the next title shot.
My last loss was against Yushin Okami and he fought for a title immediately after me. Since Okami, I have been on a four-fight win streak, beating Damian Maia, who fought for a world title and was in the top five. Immediately after that, I fought Chris Leben and beat him in the fashion that I did. He was a number one contender as well. Chael Sonnen fought for the title and lost. Then he beats Brian Stann and gets another shot? I feel like I’ve done what I needed to do, and I’m prepared to fight Anderson. I’m not calling him out, but I’d love to be a world champ.
You hear that Dana?