By George Deutsch:
Bone spurs. That’s what stood between Mark Muñoz (12-2) and a shot at top UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen at UFC on Fox 2 this past January. Had Muñoz won the No. 1 contender matchup, he would’ve gotten a long-awaited championship bout with current middleweight titleholder Anderson “the Spider” Silva.
But it was not meant to be.
With less than two weeks to go before his bout with Sonnen, a lingering elbow injury worsened. Muñoz was out and Michael Bisping was in. Muñoz subsequently had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow, and is now looking to fight another top guy at 185 lbs. Rumors have been swirling that undefeated Chris Weidman (8-0) might be Muñoz’s next opponent. “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” sat down with MMA Frenzy to discuss what the future might hold.
“I feel great. I’m training and sparring. I feel really good,” said Muñoz. “For the past few years I’ve had problems with my elbow. I kept ignoring it until they found out I had some bone spurs after my fight with Chris Leben. My elbow was throbbing and the pain was so great, my doctors told me I needed surgery, but by that time I was already informed of the fight with Sonnen for the Fox 2 card, and I didn’t want to pass up that opportunity. While I was training my elbow popped and it felt a lot worse than it ever had before. I tried to work through it, but it was too much to bear. I tried to pick up my gym bag and I couldn’t even lift it.
“It turns out that those bone spurs had made their way into my joints. They ended up pulling out 24 pieces of bone, six of which were a centimeter-and-a-half in diameter. I was so disappointed afterwards, because I had been waiting to get a title shot for a long time. But everything happens for a reason, and now I am coming back stronger than before. There is still a little bit of pain, but it’s only been a few months, so that’s to be expected. I am definitely looking forward to getting back inside the Octagon and continuing on toward a shot at the championship. I fought eight times in three years; the fight with Sonnen would’ve been my ninth fight in 26 months. I’m not sure when I’ll be back for sure, but my doctors are optimistic about being able to fight in July.”
Muñoz has been on a 7-2 tear since joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2009, beating Kendall Grove, Aaron Simpson, C.B. Dollaway, Demian Maia and Leben. He also holds a victory over Mike Pierce. Muñoz is currently ranked the #4 middleweight in the world by ESPN, and is looking to fight another top 10 guy to get right back in title contention. Many have speculated that Weidman, himself the #8 middleweight in the world, might be next up for Muñoz. Weidman holds notable wins over Alessio Sakara, Tom Lawlor and Maia.
“I have been hearing those same rumors,” said Muñoz. “I feel like I match up against him really well. He has great stand-up, and he is a solid wrestler who takes people down and uses top control to force his will on them. He has good BJJ and is always looking for submissions and chokes. I am definitely looking forward to that fight if it does happen. I want to fight someone who makes sense, someone who is going to get me closer to a title shot. I feel like I have earned that opportunity and by defeating someone of Weidman’s caliber, I believe I would deserve a title shot.”