Mark Munoz Saying Goodbye To UFC

Mark Munoz is one of several former Oklahoma State wrestlers making a career out of battling in the cage. Munoz has competed at both the light-heavyweight and middleweight divisions and now the man nicknamed the "Filipino Wrecking Machine" will fight for the final time and do it in his native Philippines on Saturday night when he takes on Luke Barnett in UFC Fight Night 66.

A major reason that Munoz will hang it up from octagon is his son, Trent.

"You got that right, you nailed it right on the head," Munoz confirmed of his last of 20 professional fights. "I made the decision, it was a tough decision, but he was the catalyst in me making the decision and I've always talked about family first.

"I had told my wife that by the time our youngest daughter got to first grade that I would be retired from fighting and we'll see where it goes from there. She's been in first grade for a long time and I've been in the UFC for a long time, about six years now."

Munoz, who has used both his wrestling talents that were honed in Stillwater as an NCAA national champion at 197 pounds and a two-time All-American with 121 wins on the mat, has also run a training center and coached other MMA athletes. In doing so he has missed some precious moments from all four of his children.

"I've missed some special moments in my kids lives because of my responsibilities to UFC and in owning and operating Reign Training Center and coaching athletes there," Munoz explained. "It's been tough and all the time having a wife and raising four kids. I want to leave more of an impact in what I tell people to me is more important and that is my family."

Recently, Munoz was confronted with a request from Trent. It seems one of his own children needs dad's expertise to follow his dreams.

"It was very interesting because he (Trent) comes up to me one day and said I want to quit soccer and baseball," Munoz said while also explaining that his son is on a very exclusive baseball travel team and soccer club team.

"I love playing those sports but I really love wrestling and I want to get a full scholarship to a Division I university," Trent told his dad.

Mark Munoz asked, "which one?" Trent said, "Oklahoma State."

Munoz said he explained to his son that most schools don't give full scholarships in wrestling, and it is very rare at Oklahoma State with all the talent on their team. Munoz said he asked his son what made him think he could achieve that.

"He said, 'I've got you dad' and I thought, okay, we're going to do this," Munoz said. "He's doing really well and his learning curve has come around quite a bit and I'm looking forward to coaching him in high school."

Now that Munoz is nearing the end of his own competitive career I had to ask him about a recent statement made by former UFC champion and former OSU wrestler Johny Hendricks. Hendricks told a crowd of OSU fans at the recent Posse Auction that working out in the OSU wrestling room is the toughest thing he has ever done and that wrestling, not UFC, is the tougher sport. Munoz took less than a second to answer the question.

"One hundred percent I agree with that! I think back now as to why we are so tough and how we got that way," Munoz said. "It's all the work and the grit, pain, suffering that we went through. It truly took us beating each other up to make us as good as we are.

"In that room alone there was Johny (Hendricks), Daniel Cormier, Jake Rosholt, Shane Roller, and myself just to name five UFC fighters, and we all came off the same wrestling team. How many comprise a team? Ten. I remember looking up and down when we had three man groups and looking at guys trying so hard just to score a point.

"It is the toughest thing we've ever done and it was truly a special thing for us to experience. We were sharpening each other every day. It's like that verse in the Bible where it says, 'As iron sharpens iron one man sharpens another.' That is what we were doing."

That is what Mark Munoz will do after Saturday night. He will continue sharpening his own flesh and blood in son Trent so that he can enjoy a similar experience as what his dad did in college, in Stillwater, in that second floor wrestling room in Gallagher-Iba Arena. It is a special place.


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