UFC middleweight Mark Munoz captured back-to-back Big XII titles during his tenure at Oklahoma State University not too many moons ago. Despite the two-time All-American wrestler’s decorated resume, Munoz knew he needed to refine his striking game in order to get to the next level.
Fortunately for MMA’s ultimate nice guy, he’s become quite chummy with the sport’s most efficient striker, Anderson Silva, while serving as training partners at the prestigious Team Black House camp.
Although the “Filipino Wrecking Machine” went on to open his own gym, the amigos were able to spend some quality time together before boarding a plane for their respective bouts in Abu Dhabi.
“Just to be around Anderson Silva, to see his mentality, it’s great,” Munoz told 5thRound.com in an exclusive interview. “The time that I had with him was just awesome. The guy is just gifted beyond measure and to be able to draw from his knowledge is just amazing.”
While Silva helped hone the 32-year-old’s hands, Munoz returned the favor by showcasing his mat skills to get “The Spider” ready for Demian Maia, who will be his seventh consecutive middleweight title defense at UFC 112.
Although the UFC’s 185-pound king played a key role in Munoz’ training for Kendall Grove, the friendly fighter also called on a few other superstar comrades to assist him.
“It wasn’t just [Anderson] though. The Nogueira Brothers, Fabricio Werdum, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and the list goes on and on,” Munoz said of his talented contacts. “There are just too many talented fighters and coaches that have been so helpful in getting me ready for Kendall.”
In addition to the star-studded squad Munoz recruited, he also brought in a lot of long sparring partners in order to get acquainted with Grove’s massive reach advantage.
“That’s what I want to get used to because those guys that are that tall, I want to be able to gauge my distance,” Munoz said of Grove’s biggest threat. “That’s one thing about Kendall that he does very well, he utilizes his jab very well and he does a lot of push kicks and knees and he tries to grind people up against the cage.
“I’ve studied him and I see his tendencies and my plan is to take advantage of them.”
Don’t forget UFC 112 kicks off early this Saturday, with the live pay-per-view broadcast beginning at 1PM ET/10AM PT. However, a same-day replay will also be made available during the UFC’s customary 10PM ET/7PM PT time slot.