Mark Munoz will be fighting in his swan song bout against Luke Barnatt on May 16 in Manila as part of UFC Fight Night 66, but he’s already in the process of stepping away from mixed martial arts.
During an appearance on Monday’s MMA Hour, Munoz announced that he had officially closed his gym, the Reign Training Center, which is located in Lake Forest, Calif. The 37-year-old "Filipino Wrecking Machine" said it was just time to move on with his life as a husband and father.
"I’ve actually sold Reign Training Center, and I’m looking to get into coaching for wrestling again," he said. "For me, my son is going into high school, and my daughter has got two more years of college, and I want to be a dad that leaves a legacy with his children. I want to be able to spend time with them. These past six years have gone by so fast, and I haven’t really gotten to spend time with them. I’ve been spending 12, 13 hours days at the gym, teaching, coaching. And then I’ve been doing a lot of my community work with my anti-bullying campaign, all the while trying to be a husband to a wife and four kids, and then being a UFC on top of that.
"It’s been a hard year as far as injuries, a lot of stress. So I just want to simplify my life."
Munoz later clarified that he actually closed the gym last week instead of selling it to a new owner.
Reign has been the home to many name fighters for the last few years, including welterweight Jake Ellenberger, Brett Cooper, Michael Bisping, Uriah Hall and former light heavyweight Krzysztof Soszynski. Munoz said that it was an emotional decision to sell the gym. He officially closed the door last Friday.
"It was tough. It was really tough," he said. "I actually got emotional. I really got emotional. There was a three-day period of mourning. I helped a lot of people through that gym. People came up to me and said, ‘you saved my life having this gym open.’ Kids that are underprivileged or at risk came to the gym and they found a purpose in their life through the gym.
"It was tough. It was really for me, but my first service is to my family. To leave a lasting impact on my family first…I’ve got to tend to them first. And the gym was like keeping me away."
Munoz was an All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State in the early-2000s, and won an NCAA National Championship his senior year. He continued on as a coach at the university before coaching at UC Davis. It was there that he began taking up MMA. He went on to fight twice in the WEC and 14 times in the UFC, where he came into middleweight contention in 2012. Munoz lost a potential No. 1 contender’s fight to Chris Weidman in July of that year.
Since then Munoz has gone just 1-3, having lost his last three bouts via finishes. In his last fight, Munoz -- who signed a new deal with the UFC shortly beforehand -- tapped out to a rear-naked choke against Roan Carneiro just 1:40 into the opening round. Though many thought he may opt to retire after the loss, Munoz wanted to be part of the UFC’s maiden voyage to the Philippines, which he called a "dream come true." After that, he will hang up the gloves.
Asked how his mental state of mind was heading into the fight with Barnatt with so much going on with the closing of Reign and his projects, Munoz said he’s feeling good.
"I’m doing well man, I’m excited," he said. "I had a great practice today here. I’ve got great training partners. My weight is down. I guess, you know about the last weight cut. It was very hard, and usually when you have a hard weight cut it’s probably not a good outcome for me. But hey, my weight’s good. I’m going into this fight ready. I’m prepared. I’ve had a great training camp."