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Mark Munoz wants a piece of the claim to top contendership

Mark Munoz has no problem going wherever the UFC sends him to fight. Since joining the company, the former Oklahoma State University wrestling standout has competed in Abu Dhabi and Canada, along with several appearances in the U.S.

Now, Munoz will take his talents to England where a meeting with Chris Leben in the main event of UFC 138 will take place. In conjunction with the change in headliners, their bout is scheduled for five rounds and goes down November 5 from Birmingham.

Riding a three-fight winning streak, Munoz (11-2) knows that a victory over Leben will place him right back into contention for a shot at UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva. He seemed to be well on his way to becoming a top challenger last year, but a Split Decision loss to Yushin Okami ultimately kept him from achieving his goal.

“I felt like I’ve learned a lot from that fight against Okami,” said Munoz, in a recent interview with Tatame. “You know, I was just a wrestler when I fought Okami, but now I’ve improved a lot of stand-up and jiu-jitsu and all my game, and I feel that I’m ready. I feel that I’m prepared now, I feel that my game as evolved and now I’m a totally different fighter.”

Leben, who is 22-7 and has won four of his last five bouts, is an opponent who has the same desires as Munoz in terms of wanting to be a champion. In his last fight, “The Crippler” knocked out Wanderlei Silva just 27 seconds into their meeting.

“The fight against Leben will definitely get my closer to where I wanna be,” Munoz said. “(Anderson) is a good friend of mine. (Fighting him) won’t change our friendship at all. I definitely gotta talk to him about that, but hopefully he’ll be retired by then, we’ll see. I’ll always be friends with Anderson and hopefully it doesn’t change the relationship we have. For me, it won’t change at all.”


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