MMA Analysis: Chris Leben and Mark Munoz at UFC 138

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Chris Leben and Mark Munoz will meet in the very first non-title five round main event at UFC 138 in Birmingham, England. This will be the new standard for all subsequent non-title main events, but “The Crippler” and “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” will be our pioneers on this new frontier.

More than anything else, this new main event provision will bring a fighter’s cardio conditioning into the spotlight. Fighters who have never before been part of a five round bout will have to focus specifically on their cardio and adjust their overall game plans in preparation. To the fans, it’s simply two more rounds of entertainment. To most fighters, it means seriously stepping things up in training and venturing into uncharted territory.

So, let’s see how Leben and Munoz measure up in this regard.

Chris Leben has been called a “zombie” by Joe Rogan on more than one occasion. He walks toward danger, taking punishment en route to delivering his own. He has superior confidence in his power and believes it to be worth weathering the storm he must brave in order to land the shots that will end the fight. This kind of tactic will test any fighter’s cardio, since absorbing punishment is one of the quickest ways to zap your energy reserves. As we have seen before, Leben is a fighter that is dangerous, regardless of how exhausted he may appear. However, if he is not able to finish Mark Munoz within three rounds, it’ll be interesting to see how he looks in rounds four and five. Charging forward and throwing power shots the way Leben always has may not serve him so well in a protracted bout.

Mark Munoz has an outstanding training regimen, as we have seen in his “The Rules” series of online videos.  His ground and pound is exhausting just to watch and it is something that can wear on an opponent like few other elements in a fight.  He’s relentless when he has someone grounded and brings down punches even from inside full guard that can stop a fight. He has the option of using his outstanding wrestling to wear opponents down and should be able to do so, at least to some degree, against Chris Leben.

Upon initial comparison, it would appear the cardio edge to Munoz in this fight, but not to an incredibly consequential degree. We have seen both fighters tire during the course of a three round fights, and so their preparation for UFC 138 will no doubt be arduous. Both fighters, but Leben in particular, have displayed heart in the octagon and this may be tested more significantly than ever before in this upcoming main event.

Who do you see winning this fight?

Do you think we will even see the 4th and 5th rounds when these two clash?

If it goes the distance, who do you see having enough in the tank to take the decision?

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