UFC veteran Mark Munoz refuses to walk away from fight game

At the Reign Training Center in Southern California, UFC middleweight Mark Munoz is the keeper of lost souls.

Many a fighter on the fringes of society has gone to him looking for a job, or a break, and he’s given it.

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“He is like an older brother to me,” Xplode Fight Series featherweight Raja Shippen told mmajunkie.com. “He helped me get clean, get off drugs. He’s done so much for me and not because he’ll think it looks good for him. Most people don’t even know what he’s done for me.”

And Shippen is just one of many with a similar story about the middleweight and his philosophy of saving people from themselves.

Not only does Munoz have a wife and four kids, but he runs a business and manages a fight team. Throw in injuries, for good measure, and you have a fighter stretched to the limit.

That boundary will get tested this weekend when he fights Roan Carneiro at UFC 184 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The 37-year-old knows he has to push forward even if he’s not totally prepared for this duel. What would his fighters say if he just up and quit?

“If I were to quit now because of the year I had, I’d be a hypocrite,” Munoz said. “It’s that simple. I’d be a hypocrite, because I’m the guy always talking about accomplishing your goals as best you can. I can’t go on saying that as a coach if I don’t do it myself.”

Being an aging fighter with an ageless mind is the hardest burden he has to bear, but Munoz believes he doesn’t have to be the champ to go quietly into the good night.

At least not yet.

“For me, it’s about the process,” Munoz said. “And I haven’t been doing this the best way I can. That’s what I’m trying to focus on now. I need to get that part down so I can feel comfortable telling people, ‘This is what I did with my career.’ If I were to quit now, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable telling people about it. I don’t want to be that guy that just says, ‘Hey, I was in the UFC.’ I don’t want that to be the only thing I can say.”

FERGUSON TRYING TO MAKE IT FIVE IN A ROW

UFC lightweight Tony Ferguson is looking to dust off every one of the fighters, one by one, as he tracks his way to the top of the division rankings.

He’ll go for his fifth consecutive win when he takes on Gleison Tibau at UFC 184.

“What’s better than 7-1? 8-1,” Ferguson told MMAjunkie Radio. “I want to make sure I pick off each and every fighter. I want to make sure they’re scared of ‘El Cucuy,’ and I want to make sure, when I do get that title shot, people are not like, ‘He talked his way to the title’ or bitching and moaning because that’s what people do.”

Ferguson either has grander dreams or dreams of grandeur when he compares himself to Anderson Silva. It’s up to him to decide which one.

“I want people to be like, ‘This guy’s not the Anderson Silva of the division, he’s the Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson of the division,’” the lightweight said.

And Ferguson figures his opponent is just standing in the way to his sixth win in a row and a jump up the rankings.

“If (Tibau) just wants to sit there and lay on me like Danny Castillo did, he can try to play the judges, but it’s just not going to work, man,” Ferguson said. “He’s going to have a barrage of knees, punches, kicks and elbows coming at his face, and with an unlimited supply of conditioning.”

Anthony Pettis is the current champ at 155 pounds, with many others nipping at his heels, including Michael Johnson. Johnson was the last guy to beat Ferguson, back at UFC on FOX 3 in May of 2012.

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH FOR MIR

After Frank Mir defeated Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva at UFC Fight Night 61 last Sunday, the heavyweight has found what Spanish explorer Juan Ponce De Leon never could: the magical fountain of youth.

Mir’s manager, Malki Kawa, says the 35-year-old wants at least two more fights this year, with one of them against former UFC heavyweight champ and current WWE competitor Brock Lesnar.

Mir and Lesnar have a history that dates back to 2008. That year, Lesnar joined the UFC and took on Mir, only to lose by a first-round tap out. Over a year and a half later, Lesnar got his revenge with a second-round TKO stoppage at UFC 100.

They have gone their separate ways since then and Mir seems keen to rekindle the romance.

“If Brock Lesnar decides to come back, (I would) welcome him back,” Mir said. “I think it would be a huge, big fight. I think it’s something that would catapult my name even higher up. I mean, a rubber match between the two of us would be a phenomenal fight.”

QUICK HITS

Remember Josh Koscheck? He’s back Saturday night to fight Jake Ellenberger at UFC 184. The UFC middleweight took 15 months off fighting after losing to Tyrone Woodley at UFC 167.



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