After the main event of UFC 138, fans, analysts and Mark Munoz himself are claiming he is ready for a shot at UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva.
Facts are facts: Munoz looked awfully impressive in his victory over Chris Leben. He was able to stand and trade with the heavy-handed "Crippler" when necessary and was absolutely ruthless with his ground and pound once he secured the top position.
However, all this talk about "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" being able to hang with Silva does just not have a very sound rationale behind it.
Munoz being the next guy in line? That's reasonable. Munoz being the guy who dethrones Silva? Absolutely not.
Here's why Munoz vs. Silva would just be another easy finish for "The Spider."
For whatever reason, a number of spectators in the MMA community feel Mark Munoz is Chael Sonnen with far superior finishing ability.
That simply is not the case. For one thing, Munoz's takedowns are nowhere near the level of Uncle Chael.
Munoz, like Sonnen, was a two-time Division I All-American wrestler. However, his takedowns are simply not that impressive.
Considering Munoz was actually a national champion wrestler at Oklahoma State University in 2001, coupled with the fact he has vicious ground and pound, many simply assume his MMA wrestling is great.
It's really not, though.
Munoz routinely shoots from far away, showcasing the bad habit of staying on his knees and keeping his head down when he misses a takedown.
This was fully on display in the fight with Leben, which also showcased that his takedown defense is not that great, as the former WEC middleweight champion secured a takedown in the first round.
Also, Munoz is not very good at setting up his shot with strikes, so almost every single one of his takedown attempts are telegraphed.
Long story short, Munoz would have a very difficult time getting Anderson Silva down to the ground.
Munoz's sole loss at middleweight came at the hands of Yushin Okami at UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko.
That fight showed not only how inferior Munoz's takedowns are, but also how much his striking relies on raw power as opposed to technique.
Okami stopped every single takedown attempt of his opponent with far better wrestling credentials, and while that was the difference-maker in the fight, Okami's crisp striking is what sealed the deal.
Additionally, Munoz leaves his hands conspicuously low when he is willing to stand and trade, leaving his chin wide open regularly.
This was evident in the Okami fight, but could also be seen in Munoz's fight at UFC 131 against Demian Maia and, of course, in his sole knockout loss against Matt Hamill at UFC 96.
No one at middleweight should be expected to have the ability to hang with Anderson Silva on their feet, but without a fool-proof wrestling game plan, that is a serious problem.
Let's pretend Munoz did get Silva to the mat; I am going to go out on a limb and still say he wouldn't finish the fight.
Munoz had a difficult time holding down a clearly out-of-condition Chris Leben, and while he finished that fight in dominant fashion, Silva is an entirely different animal.
The pound-for-pound best fighter in MMA, who is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, would be able to sweep or throw up a submission from Munoz's guard sooner or later.
Munoz sometimes get so focused on landing big shots from the inside of his opponents guard, he does little to keep top pressure on them and gives them a chance to get up.
Leben exploited this trait several times, and he is at best a slightly above-average fighter with a very average grappling game.
While he did earn a close win over Demian Maia, one of the most highly touted BJJ black belts in MMA, it was a decision that could have went either way since Munoz was never able to utilize his ground and pound.
To Munoz's credit, he deserves to be considered a top-five, perhaps even a top-three, middleweight at this point in his career.
He is also no longer just a wrestler: He is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his striking seems to be improving from fight to fight.
However, the bottom line is simply that he still makes too many mistakes to be a legitimate threat to Anderson Silva's middleweight title.