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Mark Munoz's retirement plan has long been in the making

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mark Munoz owns a gym, does motivational speeches and leads an anti-bullying campaign. He also runs his own wrestling camp and is trying to raise four kids with his wife Kristi.

In other words, Munoz has been much more than just a UFC fighter for a long time now.

Last week, Munoz announced that his fight against Luke Barnatt at UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs. Faber on May 16 in Manila would be his final one. But that was not a decision "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" made at that moment or even after his loss to Roan Carneiro at UFC 184 last month. No, this is something Munoz and his family have spoken about for some time.

"I've been talking to my wife about it," Munoz told MMAFighting.com. "We had agreed that when my youngest daughter gets into first grade, I'll be done. Well, she's been in first grade for [a few months] now."

The timing really couldn't be any more perfect. Munoz gets to cap his career in the country where his parents were born: the Philippines. It's been one of his greatest dreams to compete in there, where he is adored by a knowledgeable fanbase, and he would love nothing more than to go out a winner in Manila.

"I'm so excited," said Munoz, who returned from a Manila press tour last week. "I've been pushing for this opportunity for so long. I've been doing frequent trips back there to promote the UFC and it's finally coming to fruition. I didn't think this day would come. Thank goodness it has when I'm still fighting. I am so motivated for this fight."

Munoz, 37, is charged up for this opportunity. He said he is already at 200 pounds -- within striking distance already of 185 -- and the fight is still nearly two months away. Unlike past training camps, Munoz will go into this one in great shape.

If Munoz (13-6) didn't seem like himself in the first-round submission loss to Carneiro in Los Angeles, that's because he likely was not. Munoz injured his knee when he picked up Gegard Mousasi for a slam in a loss to Mousasi last May. He didn't have surgery, but got platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment on it instead. Munoz wasn't able to work out much before training camp and he ballooned to around 250 pounds.

So, the Orange County, Calif., resident cut 65 pounds in nine weeks to make weight for UFC 184. He did miss the first time, but got to 186 on his second attempt.

"It was a hard weight cut," Munoz said. "I was really cutting it close."

Munoz had a similar experience after a loss to Chris Weidman in July 2012 before coming back to beat Tim Boetsch at UFC 162 in July 2013. He has not won since then, falling to Carneiro, Mousasi and Lyoto Machida. But Munoz will step away from the cage with notable victories over C.B. Dollaway, Chris Leben and Demian Maia. He was a perennial top-15 fighter in the UFC's middleweight division.

Munoz is not retiring, because he doesn't think he can do it anymore. Other things are just taking precedence. Munoz's teenage son is getting full into wrestling and he wants his dad to train him. Munoz's teenage daughter is hoping to get a college soccer scholarship and she wants her dad to run her strength and conditioning program.

"I have other priorities," Munoz said.

Indeed, but fighting in the Philippines was something he had to do. Munoz couldn't hang up the gloves before entering the Octagon in the country from which he can trace his heritage. He's thankful he gets the chance to do just that for his going-away party.

"I'm planning to have my last fight where it all started with my parents," Munoz said. "It's a dream come true."

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