Mark Munoz (12-3, 7-3 UFC) vs. Tim Boetsch (16-5, 7-4 UFC)
Munoz and Boetsch were bumped from headlining the preliminary card to the main card when a fight between Chan Sung Jung and Ricardo Lamas fell through, and both men are looking to get themselves back into the title picture with a win at UFC 162. Munoz is coming back from a year-long layoff. He was last seen being knocked out by Chris Weidman at UFC On FUEL TV 4 last July. Munoz is 4-1 over his last five fights. Boetsch is looking to get back into the win column since dropping his first fight since moving down to 185 pounds. Boetsch is also 4-1 over his last five fights.
Fight Breakdown: Munoz could have been the guy challenging Anderson Silva this weekend at UFC 162. He was on the cusp of a title shot before fighting Chris Weidman last July. Munoz admittedly went into that fight with a stress fracture in his foot, which affected both his weight cut and his performance. An elbow injury also kept him from a fight with Chael Sonnen in January 2012. Broken bones in his foot have limited him to just the one fight with Weidman since a November 2011 knockout win over Chris Leben, which capped a four-fight win streak that also included wins over Demian Maia, C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson. Munoz has just two losses at 185 pounds- to Weidman and Yushin Okami, and both have challenged for the UFC Middleweight Championship.
Boetsch started off as a wrecking machine when he moved down to the middleweight division following a loss at light heavyweight to Phil Davis in November 2010. He scored four straight wins to start off his run at 185 pounds. He scored consecutive decision wins over Kendall Grove and Nick Ring, followed by a come-from-behind knockout of Okami, and ending with a decision win over brand new signee Hector Lombard. He last fought in December at UFC 155, losing by technical knockout to Costa Philippou, which knocked him out of the title picture for now. Boetsch had to attempt to overcome a lot in that fight, as he suffered a broken hand and an unfortunate eye poke, and it ended his impressive run that he had put together.
Both men are looking to thrust themselves back into the limelight at 185 pounds, and put themselves right back in the hunt for potential contenders’ fights. This may be the last chance for the winner as both are starting to get up there in age- Munoz is 35 and Boetsch is 32. Both men hit very hard and are looking for the knockout finish. Munoz has brutal ground-and-pound but Boetsch may be more technical on the feet. Munoz has not shown the best striking defense in his fights, and the inactivity, the injuries and weight issues he went through may hamper his performance. Munoz wants to make a statement that he has a lot more to give, though, and knocking out Boetsch would make that statement.
Both have wrestling backgrounds, and while Munoz may be the more accomplished collegiate wrestler, Boetsch has translated his wrestling better to MMA. A key takedown or two could play a big role in who comes out on top. If Munoz gets the takedown, he has that amazing donkey kong style ground-and-pound to go with him. Boetsch is very tough to takedown, though, he will attack Munoz at close quarters if Munoz looks to shoot for the takedown. Both are former light heavyweights, but Boetsch is the slightly bigger man. Boetsch will have to defend the takedowns while Munoz will have to defend the striking. Both have a tendency to get tired as well, and conditioning could hinder Munoz with his year-long layoff. Boetsch has been more active, but if Munoz is able to return to the form he showed when he fought Leben and Maia, he will take home the win, but just barely.
Why It Matters: Both men are wanting to get a title shot before they call it a career, and the winner will find himself back on the right path to that title shot. Neither Munoz nor Boetsch are in trouble of being cut with a loss, but back-to-back losses would put them out of the title hunt for at least the next year, and perhaps longer. It is a huge fight for both men, and both men want to make a statement on a night when the championship in their division will be defended.