Exclusive interview with Mark Munoz

Mark Munoz is a family man, a division-one wrestling champion, a competitor in the UFC, a business man, a philosopher and a coach. Mark Munoz is the Filipino Herschel Walker and he has participated in more community events in the last month than you have in your entire life. If Anderson Silva comes to you for training help you know you are on a rocket to the top. Oh yeah, he has a following in Abu Dhabi. If Mark Munoz wanted he could probably get King Mo to hold an umbrella over his head when he walks out to face Aaron Simpson at UFC 123 in Detroit.

This interview was conducted almost immediately after hearing the news that Vitor Belfort was removed from the Okami fight. At the time, no one knew he would be fighting Anderson Silva instead.


Hey Mark, did you hear Vitor is out of the fight with Okami?What? No, WOW, what happened? Who’s in?


Marquardt.Marquardt is gonna fight Okami? Wow! Man that’s crazy.


That being said, in less than two months you and Aaron Simpson are banging in Detroit, what does this mean for your position in the title race?It’s huge man, every fight in the UFC is the fight of your life. I have to treat it as that and go out and train my hardest every time I go out to the gym.


Down at Joker’s gym you coined the term “Wrestleitsu”, can you elaborate on what Wrestleitsu is?Well that’s the thing about MMA, you see a lot of hybrids going on you know? Wrestling, jiu-jitsu, striking, you see a lot of things coming together and with wrestling as a base you can bring it down or keep it standing. For me, I have gravitated towards jiu-jitsu quite well because it fits my style of wrestling, which is a lot of scrambling on the mat and that’s what I love to do. When I trained with Joker we would joke around about wrestling and BJJ and we called it “Wrestleitsu”


Are you at your gym now more than Blackhouse?It depends on who’s training at Blackhouse because Blackhouse is not always occupied by the Blackhouse team. It’s a private facility and when they are all in LA I’m there, but I haven’t been there since before the Anderson Silva/Sonnen fight.


Whats your take on the whole Sonnen PED situation?I know Chael, and I’m hoping it was something that he was taking and he didn’t know. I’m hoping that it was something that tested positive that was mistaken. That could be real damaging to his career. He looked great. I don’t want his performance to be tainted by that now, from all these allegations. I like Chael, he’s a pretty colorful person. I hope he just took something he didn’t know about.


Who do you think is the best wrestler in MMA? You can say yourself if you want. Um, I think MMA wrestling and pure wrestling are totally different. I’ve seen a lot of great wrestlers that are entering this sport, and I think the one that impresses me the most with the amount of time he has been a mixed martial artist is Cain Valasquez. He is able to weave in, he’s done great with his striking, his jiu-jitsu is definitely improving as well. So I see him doing big things.


Do you think he will beat Brock?I think he has a big chore with Brock, I think if he uses his agility and watches the angles and moves in and out like he did against Noguiera, then I think he has a good chance of winning, yes.


You train with Alexander Schlemenko, will you be working with him in his preparation against Hector Lombard?Yeah he’s gonna start coming in soon. We helped out with his last fight against Bryan Baker, I’m looking forward to it, he was a great guy to work with and I look forward to showing him some wrestling and also I look forward to banging it out man cause he’s a banger!


I cant wait for that fight.Yeah he likes to mix it up in the cage and I love those guys cause those are the type of guys that want to just come in and work hard.


If you fought Hector Lombard would you take him down right away or test your stand-up?I want to mix it up with my stand-up. You know, I feel really good right now with my stand-up. People know I’m gonna shoot. I want to establish my standup and I want people to know I’m confidant about my standup, when push comes to shove I can always rely on my wrestling. When I’m working I need to be able to switch gears and be able to standup and be confidant in that. I stand up with the guys I train with that are some of the best in the world. Yeah but if I were to fight Hector Lombard I would take the fight where it goes and if we start clinching up, yeah I’ll take him down, if he starts coming in with some of the heat he has been showing with other guys, I wold be happy to oblige.


The list of top tier talent you have trained with is never ending, Satoshi Ishii, fighting at Dream 16 against Minowaman, what was it like working with him?Man his skills are crazy. The things he can do. I haven’t trained with him alot like other training partners, but when I have it’s been amazing. I cant wait to train with him again. He’s got a great pace, his Judo. Judo is a lot like wrestling, he has that core strength and he picks up striking pretty well. I’m excited to see him fight.


What is the best piece of advice Anderson Silva has ever given you?Oh man, we were at Blackhouse and we were doing a muay-thai workout. I call this my ‘Bruce Lee’ moment. After we were done he knelt in the middle of the cage and I didn’t know what he was doing, he was taking of his pads and he called me over, “mark, mark,” he goes “no fight, fight, bad. no fighting. fighting get angry, fun, no problem, easy, be happy. go play.” and in a nutshell what he was telling me in his broken English was to not go out there with negative emotions like being angry, you get tense and tight. When you go out there and you’re moving and hopping up and down and you have that bounce and you’re making it a game you see things clearer. They become sharper. It made alot of sense, what he taught me. I was blown away, it was awesome I thought it was great. I was like “this is what Bruce Lee would say!” It was like (doing Bruce Lee impression) “pour water into a teapot it becomes a teapot. Pour water into a cup it becomes a cup. Water can crash, water can flow.” He was basically saying that (laughs)…It was a sweet day.


I’ll admit that was a half-loaded question, I wanted to see if Ando actually spoke English. I accept that. You and king Mo are tight, have you ever used the canned oxygen that King Mo used at Strikeforce Houston? In training or otherwise?I used it like twice, the oxygen in the can right? The spray bottle?


Yeah.I used it once or twice but I don’t really feel the results from it. I think if your train hard and exercise your cardio hard three days a week, I think you’ll be good.


It’s interesting that you say it has no real effect.Yeah, Urijah was like ‘hey, you got to try this’ and I asked him what it was and he kind of sprayed it in my face and I was like OK, big deal. He went on to say that it was pure oxygen and how you see football players use it and how they have it on, the sidelines. But then I said, ‘we’re not football players’ haha. For me, I train hard and do my strength and conditioning and I get good sleep. I feel like if you train hard the fight will be easy.


Do you have any stories about King Mo you wish to tell? Want to throw him under the bus?Haha, no I don’t want to throw him under the bus, King Mo and I go way back man, going back to Oklahoma State when he wrestled for us. When I first worked out with him I thought he was an athletic kid that worked hard and I didn’t think he had division-one level technique but was so fast. Towards the end of the summer I was like whoa this guy is tough you know? I asked him if he thought he was going for division-one because at the time he was at a D2 school and he was thinking about going against us. I was like “no no no, you’re wrestling with us”. So he came to Oklahoma State and he just became an awesome, awesome wrestler man. That’s a testament to the kind of person King Mo is. He’s intelligent, a hard worker, he listens very well and he’s coachable. He’s a very kind and compassionate person. My kids love him. That’s what I think about King Mo, I will always stand by his side for sure.


Do you consider yourself a trendsetter for Filipino athletes? Ive been thinking about it because the wrestling camps my training center, everything I have my hands in, I feel like you need to evolve as a fighter as a business owner as a parent. All the roles you have in your life you have to improve everyday life gets kind of stale. For me and my background I’m proud to be Filipino and all of the things that happened to me in my lifetime that shaped me into the person I am today you know being a Filipino-American growing up in Vallejo, California and I’m proud of the fact that I grew up very Filipino and the culture runs through my veins. Like I said before there needs to be pioneers and there needs to be settlers. Successful guys are humble and coachable. I’m happy that I am in the place that I am, its really cool. In a nutshell I guess I am a trendsetter. I think if you are stagnant in learning that’s just not the way to lead your life. I think you should just keep evolving in every aspect of your life.


When was the last time you were in the Philippines?You know what man, I have never been. I have a ton of family there. Ive been to Japan, I was born there. My parents moved to the United States in the 70s. So we moved to Vallejo and I haven’t been out of the country since. I want to go there. I have a lot of family there and I want to visit.


Why are Filipinos such great fans? They went nuts for you in Abu DhabiMan, it was crazy. I think alot of Filipinos were there because Filipinos are hard workers. They go out there to Abu Dhabi to search for a better life, they can find a lot of jobs there is a lot of work out there. So there is a very high Filipino population in Abu Dhabi. When we weighed in, at the mall in Abu Dhabi I was like “we’re going to a mall? this is crazy” and I walk into the mall and I hear the Filipino native language and I thought it was crazy how many Filipinos were there. They were everywhere. I saw Filipino flags it was crazy. Filipino fans, they are loyal…they are very loyal and they are very loud.


The Filipino Wrecking Machine…you didn’t come up with that right?I didn’t. I didn’t come up with that. I think it’s one of those nicknames that are given to you and it just sticks I guess somehow. It started off as the Filipino (sp)wrecking machine. That’s how it started. My manager gave it to me. I was like ah I don’t know. I had my first fight and people were telling me how they loved it. And I was like “you really like it?”. So it kinda stuck. Then I got lip from the Filipino population saying the Phillipian Wrecking Machine is not used in the right way. You’re Filipino. You’re not an inanimate object. So that’s how it evolved and that’s how I got my nickname. I think a lot of the people now in the UFC were given a nickname they didn’t come up with it. Mine just kinda stuck.


I’ll be honest you seem a little bummed about your nickname. Maybe can we try to help you come up with a different one? Before I got into fighting or the WEC I was thinking like, “is there another nickname I can use?”. Pretty much all of my family and all of my friends were coming up with nicknames and we just couldn’t find one that would stick. I just wanted to be Mark Munoz you know? Matt Hughes doesn’t have a nickname, there are a lot of fighters that don’t have a nickname you know? Why cant I just be Mark Munoz. But the Filipino wrecking machine has been out there so…You know Randy Couture changed his nickname from Captain America to The Natural so…


We should really think about something for you.Yeah you should because…I…I don’t like the Filipino Wrecking Machine.


Well maybe we can talk about new merchandise with K-Swiss and Form athletics. Anything you have to say about those guys? I’m good friends with Urijah and I got to meet Mark Miller. They are all awesome at K-Swiss and Form, I’m definitely happy to be part of the family and I support everything they are doing. They are creating a brand that is positive and they are incorporating individuals that have their same vision. so yeah I really like K-Swiss and Form, they definitely have the same mentality I have.


You are a few wins from potentially fighting Anderson Silva. Would you take that fight? What are your thoughts on teammates facing each other?That’s something we really need to talk about. The UFC is not happy about fighters saying they wont fight certain individuals and that’s expressed very vividly. I would have to talk to Anderson. I respect him a lot and I guess we have to cross that bridge when it comes. For me, I have wrestled a lot of my friends but wrestling and MMA is totally different. That’s something we would have to talk about as teammates.


How would that discussion go?I would go up to him in person, I would say ‘hey Anderson, let’s have lunch, let’s hash this out. I know this is something we signed up for and it’s nothing personal its what we do’. I might even say ‘OK, first round you do this, second round I do that, third round do this fourth round I do this and fifth round we let it go (laughter all around). We can joke about it all we want but I think I would sit him down. Like I said, we will cross that bridge when it comes.


What food would you guys eat together?Sushi.


Zeus and Urijah Faber were playing the EA Sports MMA game together, are you gonna pick it up? We have the Wii and the PS3, for the Blu-Ray and my son loves it. I’m thinking about getting it. I just got screened for the UFC game so that’s pretty cool.


Oh whoa cool, so you’re downloaded character?I guess so?


Next time you have another rooftop after party we require an invitation sirOh man, dude for sure! You guys are definitely invited!
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