's fast ascension to UFC
title contention has been remarkable, but that same rapid progress could put him in a position where he has to face friend and former training partner Anderson Silva
Munoz, who began fighting MMA
professionally just over four years ago, previously trained with Silva with the understanding that they were unlikely to meet in the future.
"When we've had talks about it before, I don't know if I talked to him directly or Ed [Soares], but they said he was going to be gone by the time I would be able to fight for a world championship." Munoz said Monday on The MMA Hour
In 2008, Silva said he would like to retire the following year. Soares then said Silva would retire at 35 instead. Silva turns 37 next April.
After his win over Chris Leben
at UFC 138
, Munoz took to the mic to call out Silva. And he did so in the most polite way possible -- a complete 180 from Chael Sonnen's abrasive approach at UFC 136
"I pay my dues in this weight class and I think I deserve a title shot," Munoz said last Saturday inside the cage. "Anderson Silva is by far the best pound-for-pound fighter. I give him all the respect and honor, but I think I deserve a title shot right now. I consider him a friend, but right now I'd love to get a title shot."
During the UFC 138 meeting with the fighters after the weigh-ins, fighters were encouraged by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and president Dana White to ask for a particular fight if such fight compels them. Munoz said the meeting "sparked" something in him to ask for the Silva fight.
Munoz explained his respectful callout, saying he didn't want Silva to think he was calling him out even though that was what he was doing. Nothing personal, only personal aspirations.
"I'm here to be the best, I'm not here to be a mediocre fighter, [Silva] knows that," Munoz said. "He knew that from the beginning. From me, I just wanted him to know I honor him as a friend, as a training partners, as a teacher -- I told the media about my Bruce Lee moment with him -- I give him all the respect but at the same time I'm here to be a world champion."
Standing in Munoz's way of a title shot though, is the likelihood of Sonnen receiving a title shot first. Munoz listed off his four-fight win streak and valuable wins over Demian Maia
and Leben, while Sonnen only won one fight since his return as the reasons why Munoz should be the No. 1 contender.
"I feel that I have a valid argument to fight for the title. I feel that it's my time," Munoz said. "I haven't talked to Anderson, I haven't seen him. There's no disrespect to him, I still consider him a friend, but at the same time I want to be a world champ too."
Munoz says he can be friends with someone and still fight them. He's fought close friend Aaron Simpson
already in the UFC and says he would be willing to fight current teammate Jason "Mayhem" Miller if need be. A fight against Miller could be the first instance of UFC Primetime
where the two competitors are training inside the same gym, Munoz joked.
Although Munoz wants to be Silva's next opponent, he also understands that the UFC makes fights people want to see most.
"Chael is lobbying very well and he's garnering a lot of interest for that fight," he said. "I know there's a lot of [people that want to watch that fight] and that there's a lot of coin attached to that fight."
He'll be fine to wait in line as long as he stays on track fighting people that will continue to prove he's ready for a title shot.
"Whoever they want to put in front of me I'm going to look to mow down on the way to a world title."