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UFC 138's Mark Munoz: 'I'm Fighting Guys I Admire'

Mark Munoz has come a long way in the last two years. Since making an inglorious UFC debut on the receiving end of a highlight-reel head kick from Matt Hamill, the former NCAA champion wrestler has navigated the depths of the middleweight division while ripping through a 6-1 record to claim a top-5 ranking at 185 pounds. Now, as he sits on the fringe of title contention, Munoz faces the bizarre prospect of fighting men he once looked up to. 

In an interview with Fight Hub, Munoz explained the respect he has for his upcoming opponent at UFC 138 and the unusual situation he now finds himself in as a member of the division's elite. 

I've been a fan of Chris Leben. I like the guy. And everybody I've met says ‘man, oh man, I love Chris Leben.' A lot of people love him just because his style of fighting and just how he brings it inside the Octagon. So I've been a fan of Chris Leben, and I've gotten to the point where I'm fighting the guys I admire, that I kind of want to emulate. I'm at that level. Now I'm testing myself and now I want to reestablish my goals, and I order to get to where I want to go, I got to get past him.