By Joseph Pimentel, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
Oct. 22, 2013
When Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight contender Mark Munoz steps inside the octagon later this week, he’ll be facing more than just an opponent. He’ll be fighting a friend.
“It’s a very big challenge but at the same time we’re professionals,” Munoz said. “This is business, nothing personal—and the winner is going to buy dinner.”
The Filipino Wrecking Machine Munoz is slated to fight lyoto Machida on Oct. 26 at UFC Fight Night in Manchester, England.
Munoz and Machida have been good friends for the past two years.
They were training with each other just days before Munoz’s scheduled opponent Michael Bisping withdrew after suffering an eye injury, and the UFC announced the Munoz-Machida match up.
“It’s crazy,” Munoz said. “It just took us by surprise. But it is a business. That’s just the way it is, and we’ll remain friends afterwards.”
Munoz and Machida now have the difficult task of not only fighting one another, but also as two people who intimately know each other’s fighting styles.
Riley Ross, one of Munoz’ trainers, said the key for Munoz to win is to take the former UFC middleweight champion down on the ground.
“One takedown and it’s done,” Ross said. “That’s our plan. There’s no secret about it. We’re not going to stand and trade with a guy like that. But if Machida gets caught trying to defend a takedown, Mark will bring the thunder.”
Munoz has a lot riding on this fight. A win against Machida could propel his career into new heights and give him a title shot opportunity.
Munoz said Machida is a puzzling fighter. But he believes he’s the key that could unlock Machida’s puzzling style.