UFC 162's Mark Munoz sees himself, Belfort, Bisping in 185 title picture


mark-munoz-20.jpgMark Munoz wanted to dismantle Tim Boetsch in the truest sense of the word.

He worked over his head. He worked over his body. He worked over his legs. He tried to wear him down. He tired to knock him out. He even tried to submit him. He couldn’t get the finish, but the win came, and it was a big one – maybe even the biggest of his career.

And that dismantling? It absolutely took place.

Munoz (13-3 MMA, 8-3 UFC) beat up Boetsch (16-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC) at UFC 162 on Saturday with dominant ground-and-pound in his first fight back after nearly a year off with injuries and a depression that led him to take his stress out on food, ballooning up over 260 pounds.

But with the victory, he’s got five of six in the win column with the only loss coming to new middleweight champion Chris Weidman. Munoz said after the fight that if former champ Anderson Silva doesn’t want a rematch, he’d gladly step up to have another crack at the man who knocked him out in July 2012.

On Monday, he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) in the breakdown of the new middleweight landscape in the UFC, he sees himself very much in the picture along with Vitor Belfort and Michael Bisping.

“After being out and losing to Weidman, and Vitor winning the way he did against Luke Rockhold, if I don’t get it, Vitor should be able to get it,” Munoz said. “Or me and Vitor might fight for No. 1 contender. Maybe Bisping is up there, too. Or I fight Bisping and we go for No. 1 contender. We’ll see what happens.

“I’m definitely ready, whoever they want to give me, and I plan on wrecking whoever they put me in there with.”

And “wrecking” is exactly what “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” did to Boetsch, though there were some competitive moments early in the fight.

Boetsch was a slight favorite in the fight against Munoz, which took place on the main card of UFC 162 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, airing on pay-per-view. And Munoz said he knew he was in for a test in his first fight back.

“I was trying to dismantle his body,” Munoz said. “I hit him in the leg, I hit him in the hip. Even his butt. By hitting those parts of the body, when he stands up on his feet, it’s not going to be the same. I even tried to hammerfist the side of his head to get him dizzy at the same time. But it’s just a testament to who he is. He’s tough. I knew it was going to be a tough fight and he was just going to keep coming.”

At 35, Munoz established himself as one of the guys at the front of the pack at 185 pounds. The three losses in his career have come to Weidman, onetime title challenger Yushin Okami and Matt Hamill – a head kick knockout loss in his UFC debut in March 2009 that really can be chalked up to wrong place/wrong time as much as anything.

That Munoz was gone for a year after the Weidman loss might have had some people forgetting he was hanging around, but the win over Boetsch probably reestablished things for him.

“I was finally 100 percent going into that fight,” he said. “Usually when I go into a fight, I have something wrong with me. I can’t even remember a time where I was 100 percent going into a fight. So that was the real me going into the octagon, for sure.

“I’m 35 years old and I’m kind of just hitting my stride right now. … I’m ready. I’m definitely ready to go for a world title, for sure.”

For complete coverage of UFC 162, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

MMAjunkie.com Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, MMAjunkie.com lead staff reporter John Morgan and producer Brian “Goze” Garcia. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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