In the cage, Mark Munoz is known as the Filipino Wrecking Machine who bested Tim Boetsch after Munoz recovered from a foot injury and depression-induced obesity. Outside, Mark Munoz is the nicest guy in the UFC and a Christian whose life changed when he turned to God.
“You look back on what happened and all the events that happen in your life, and I see God’s hand on it all,” Mark says in a This Is Me video. “And now I can give people hope.”
Mark’s introduction to professional fighting came by way of getting mugged in the 8th grade. Five kids shoe-lace-tackled him from behind, beat and kicked him and stripped him of his Jordans. He walked home barefoot and, ashamed, faked sickness for as long as he could to not go back to school.
“What happened to your J’s,” a friend taunted.
Mark didn’t want to recount his humiliation on the street. But eventually word got out. That’s when a friend, wanting him to learn how to stand up to bullies and young thugs, invited him to train in wrestling, but Mark wanted no part of it.
“Nah man,” he retorted. “You guys wear tight leotards and touch each other in funny places, man. I’m good.”
His buddy wasn’t going to be denied so quickly. “I bet you I can take you down in 10 seconds,” he challenged.
“Yeah right,” Mark responded. “I’m 150 pounds, and you’re barely 100 pounds. There’s no way you’re going to take me down.”
Mark broke into a fighting stance.
With two seconds, his friend darted in, picked him up and slammed him on his back.
“I’m like, if wrestling gives you superpowers, I want it,” Mark surmised.
What started in the eighth grade carried through to his senior year in high school. Mark became state champion twice, placed second at junior nationals and second at junior worlds, he says. He earned a full-ride scholarship to Oklahoma State University. He was on the national team twice and tried out for the Olympic team.
“But God had different plans,” he says.
He returned to California to study at UC Davis and met Urijah Favor, who introduced him to MMA. At first, Mark wanted no part of professional fighting; he was coaching and had a wife with four kids while getting his master’s degree.
“And probably my wife won’t allow me to do it either,” he told Urijah.
Just like the wrestling friend in eighth grade, Urijah wasn’t going to be denied so quickly.
Mark wound up going to a UFC practice. The “Who’s Who of UFC” at the time were all there. Spontaneously, he got in the ring to spar with Randy Couture, a legend in UFC and former Army sergeant with training in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Mark didn’t know what the MMA techniques were and was trying to learn and incorporate them in the ring.
“I end up snapping Randy Couture’s head back a little bit, and Urijah smacked into my chest and said, ‘See bro, I told you homie, you can do this,’” Mark remembers. Read the rest: Mark Munoz Christian UFC fighter.