Muñoz in a hurry to be world champ

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 20 2012 02:35 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2012 10:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Fil-Am Mark Muñoz, one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's fast-rising stars, truly believes he can become world champion someday.

"I truly believe in myself that I could become a world champion," the 33-year-old Muñoz, who is here in Manila for a brief stay, told mediamen right before last Saturday's Pacific X-treme Combat 29 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

"I have it on my wall everyday, I wake up I see it, I have it in my mirror so when I brush my teeth I see it, I have it my driver's seat in my car so when I turned my radio on I see it, I have it on my desk in my gym, my locker.

"Why do I do that? It's because it makes me realize that my goal everyday is to become world champion and that's what I wanted to be," he added.

And by doing that, Muñoz has trained with the best like former heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira, Brandon "The Truth" Vera and his Alliance team, Rafael "The Wizard" Cordero, Freddie Roach at Wildcard Gym and even Silva, considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in mixed martial arts today, himself at Black House.

"I truly believe that you are who you surround yourself around and I've surrounded myself with champions who work hard and are like-minded like me and they want to become champion," said Muñoz.

"If you surround yourself with people like that, you can become champion," he added.

For now though, Muñoz, who withdrew from a fight with top middleweight contender Chael Sonnen after injuring his right elbow during training, would have to wait for some more months, perhaps this May, to get a fight if not to take on reigning champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva right away or one more bout before that.

"They say I'll be back in June but I felt I'm like Wolverine, I heal quickly and hopefully I can be back this May but we'll see," said Muñoz. "But I'm just rehabbing it now and I can get back soon.

"I want whoever has the belt, if they have me go against somebody else, I'm going to request to have the champion again," he added.

But Muñoz knows he still has a lot of things to improve on particularly his standup skill that has been improving significantly in his recent fights.

"I keep learning new things, doing a different thing in my fight, knocking somebody out, submissions, taking somebody down, ground and pounding them, improve my weaknesses and refine my strength all the time," said Muñoz.

"I've never been contented doing the same and always want to do something new when I step in there, whether it is something subtle or something very obvious and I’ve barely scratched the surface," he added.

Interestingly, Muñoz knows fighting Silva is fighting not just a friend but also someone he looks up to.

"Anderon is explosive but he has trouble with wrestling and when we trained I was teaching him wrestling and he was teaching me striking, we were exchanging," said Muñoz. "He told me that he would be retired by the time I was able to go for a title shot and now I'm such in a fast rise to get to where I am now and I'm here now, what do we do.

"So now he's going to go against Chael (Sonnen) for his next fight, I don't know what that puts me but I might have one more and then him, but we'll see what happens.

"I don't like to fight my friends but I will fight my friends and I've done that before in wrestling a lot," he added.