(“I WAS ONLY KIDDING! RAAAAAWWWRRRR!!!!” Photo via UFC.com)
Mark Munoz‘s post-fight call-out of middleweight champion Anderson Silva at UFC 138 was so unnecessarily beside-the-point that Spike TV didn’t even include it in their tape-delayed broadcast. And you can’t really fault them for that editing decision. Munoz is behind at least two guys on the contender ladder — Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping, provided that the Count can get past Jason Miller in December — and if you’re not going to start your call-out with a memorable line like “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck,” you’re not going to gain much traction with fans.
So, the Filipino Wrecking Machine has set his sights on smaller, more manageable prey — namely, the aforementioned British heel, Michael Bisping. As Munoz told ESPN:
“Michael Bisping is a guy who has proven himself in this sport. He’s a great mixed martial artist. I’d love to fight him, it’d be an honour to fight him just like it was an honour to fight Chris Leben…I’m ready man, whoever they bring I’m ready.”
Now that makes a little more sense. But there’s a catch, of course. If Bisping beats Jason Miller at the TUF 14 Finale, would he even accept a fight against Munoz? Short answer: No. He’d be clamoring for a title shot himself at that point, and wouldn’t want to “take a step backwards,” or risk losing his spot in a dangerous fight against Munoz.
And the alternate scenario — what if Bisping loses to Mayhem? Then, booking Munoz vs. Bisping makes a lot of sense, but would a win over Bisping (who’d be coming off a loss at that point) vault Munoz into the middleweight #1 contender spot? Short answer: Probably not; it kind of depends on who else is available.
There really doesn’t seem to be a simple path for Munoz to get to a title fight in the near future, especially when you consider that he and Jason Miller are training partners, and may not be eager to fight each other. With four straight victories, Munoz is clearly one of the major players at 185. But until the minor logjam at the top of the division sorts itself out, he’s better off keeping his head down and beating whoever they put in front of him.