Mark Munoz is a top UFC fighter, and a Division I wrestling champion. I was able to talk personally with Munoz about the mindset strategies he uses when preparing for a fight.
Known as The Filipino Wrecking Machine, Munoz is retiring after his fight with Luke Barnatt on UFC Fight Night: Faber v. Edgar. Before his fight I was able to talk to Munoz about his final fight. (UPDATE: In a highlight-reel performance, Munoz won his fight before leaving his gloves inside the Octagon.)
By now it should come as no surprise to learn the top mixed martial artists are thoughtful and intelligent. Yet myths persist. Those who lack and understanding of martial arts see a solid hard exterior and made judgments without sitting down to speak about the discipline and hard work and mentality that goes into high-level training.
I’ve spoken to many UFC fighters inside and outside of the gym, and Munoz was among the most contemplative and reflective.
Munoz’s vibe is one of calmness and quiet self-possession.
Munoz uses mindset techniques extensively in his training, and believes fighters who focus 90% on the physical game and 10% on the mental are making a huge mistake.
We were able to talk about his mindset techniques. The interview is below.
(The sound quality is admittedly pretty bad. I hadn’t brought the proper equipment with me.)
The Mindset Secrets of Mark Munoz –
Visualization, Prayer, Meditation, and Self-Talk
Mike Cernovich: Mark, you’re known as one of the nicest guys outside of the Octagon, but inside you are ferocious. What switches in your mindset? Do you have mental strategies you use when training to “turn on” that switch?
Mark Munoz: On the outside I’m known as one of the nicest guys. But you play many roles in your life. You have to learn how to know when to turn on the aggression and when to turn it off.
Cernovich: How do you turn it on, so to speak?
Munoz: We train and spar aggressively. You have to learn how to do it, and it’s not something that will come overnight. I started wrestling since I was 13 years and, and I’m 37 now. You learn how to go “on” and “off” only through dedicated training. It takes time to develop these skills.
Cernovich: Do you use visualization in the locker room before a fight?
Munoz: Visualization is very important and I use it during training and before fights. If you can visualize what happens during the fight, you can make those same visions happen during the fight.
I visualization what happens before a fight and often find the very same situations occurring during the fight.
You also need positive self-talk. You must buffer negative self-talk with positive concrete facts.
When I feel afraid, I tell myself, “You deserve to be here. You have trained hard.” I buffer those fears by reminding myself of concrete facts.
“Doubts paralyze you. You must work to keep doubts out of your mind.”
Cernovich: Even though you’re an accomplished fighter, you have the same doubts, insecurities, and vulnerabilities as everyone else, don’t you?
Munoz: Absolutely. But what is fear? FEAR is an acronym for false evidence appearing real. When you face your fears, you realize those fears were exaggerated.
I have a lot of doubt, fear, and anxiety. You must learn how to control those and counter doubts with positive concrete facts and positive statements.
Cernovich: Do you use affirmations?
Munoz: I use affirmations.
Cernovich: What was the biggest fear you had to overcome?
Munoz: I’m not sure. (Maybe making weight.)
Cernovich: Were you ever afraid of dreaming big, knowing you could fail to achieve your dreams?
Munoz: No, you can’t be afraid to dream. You have to think big. You have to put yourself out there. You can’t be afraid to dream.
Think big, set your goals high. Set realistic goals, achieve them, and set higher goals. Re-establish goals. That’s how you reach a higher level.
7 Mental Traits of Champions –
“Desire, Direction, Willingness, Discipline, Dedication, Commitment, and Heart.”
Cernovich: Do you believe the mental game is as important as the physical?
Munoz: If you ask someone what it takes to be a champion, they’ll tell you: Desire, direction, willingness, discipline, dedication, commitment, and heart.” They never say strength or body type.
We prepare ourselves physically but neglect ourselves mentally. We spend 90% of our time on the physical game and only 10% on the mental game. We need to switch those around and spend more time on our mental game.
We need to incorporate mindset training into our physical training.
Cernovich: Do you meditate?
Munoz: 100%. I meditate and pray.
What Mark Munoz really wants –
“I want true joy.”
Cernovich: You’re not some guy who is afraid to admit he prays and meditates. You’re not trying to present yourself as some agro monster, are you?
Munoz: No. I’m not some agro monster and do not want to be. You cannot have a normal relationship or a good life is you are agro all of the time.
To be well-rounded and have peace and soulfulness, you must have both sides. I want to achieve true joy.
Cernovich: Thanks for your time. This was a fascinating conversation.
Munoz: Thank you.