PASIG CITY, METRO MANILA–He has indeed made it big in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as the “Filipino Wrecking Machine.”
But the rise of Filipino-American Mark Muñoz as a wrestler and eventually a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was born out of the struggles he faced at a young age.
“As a kid, I got jumped twice. They would take off my shoes or beat me up. I was into football and basketball at that time until I got injured. So I got into wrestling primarily for self-defense,” he says.
Since then, Muñoz has won state competitions specializing also in jujitsu and got close to making it to the Olympic Games. He coached for about 10 years before getting introduced to MMA when he attended a training camp with fellow Fil-Am and MMA champ like Brandon “The Truth” Vera.
Muñoz currently holds a notable 12-2-0 record at the UFC and was a fight away to a middleweight title. However, he is currently sidelined because of an elbow injury he sustained while training for a fight.
He is known as an aggressive ground-and-pound specialist although he is also becoming known for his striking and resilience inside the octagon. Muñoz was about to fight American fighter Chael Sonnen, with the winner of the bout getting a possible shot at UFC middle weight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
But despite gaining international recognition, Muñoz still sees himself a regular guy doing what he’s most passionate about and that is to compete and teach other aspiring fighters.
“I don’t think I’m famous but people do notice me. And when they do, I always give them hugs or shake their hands,” he says.
His achievements in MMA also have a lot to do with the values ingrained on him by both his Filipino parents.
“I was raised to respect people and treat them how you want to be treated. I don’t talk so much but when I do, I make sure I talk constructive words and inspire people to be positive. It’s in my Filipino culture.”
His goals are now set to becoming a world champion as his recovery from the injury is progressing well.
“I’ve gone through a lot of adversities in my life. But a true champion rises above all adversities. They look past their circumstance and they become bigger towards achieving a higher purpose. I’m going to rise above and become a champion,” he says.
Muñoz visited the country to support fellow fighter Raja Shippen at the recently held Pacific Xtreme Combat (PXC) 29 held in Pasig City.
(Fight photo taken from markmunoz.net)