Spike TV heads across the pond to the LG Arena in Birmingham, England for UFC 138 headlined by a battle between two of the sport’s top middleweights, Chris Leben (26-7) and Mark Munoz (11-2), on Saturday, November 5 (8 p.m.-11 p.m. midnight ET/PT- same day tape). This main event between Leben and Munoz will be the UFC’s first five-round non-title fight.
A standout performer on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter®, Leben has emerged as one of the UFC’s most recognizable and charismatic fighters. “The Crippler,” a native of Oregon currently fighting out Oahu, Hawaii, is coming off of one his most impressive victories, a 27-second knockout of UFC legend Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132 on July 2. Previously, Leben had won three of his last four contests, with victories over Yoshihiro Akiyama (Fight of the Night), Aaron Simpson (Knockout of the Night), and Jay Silva.
Leben said: “I’m really looking forward to this fight against Munoz and fighting in England again. They have some great fans there and the noise they make is loud. It is cool to make a little piece of history fighting in the first ever non-title five round fight, but I guarantee I won’t even need three rounds in this fight.”
An All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State, Munoz is one of the fastest rising stars in the 185lb division. Munoz, fighting out of Lake Forest, CA, is riding an impressive three-fight win streak with victories over Demian Maia, C.B. Dollaway, and Simpson. A victory for the “Filipino Wrecking Machine” would further ascent his climb up the division ranks.
Munoz said: “Chris Leben is a great fighter. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s got a powerful left hand and he comes forward the whole time. He’s very well-rounded; he has a great chin and he’s shown a lot of wrestling skills and jiu-jitsu technique. He’s a gritty fighter and I’m looking forward to this fight. I think it will go five rounds and I’ll control the entire fight. We’re both resilient so I think we’re going to throw bombs for five rounds. We’re making history so it’s a good trivia question and I’ll always know the answer to it! With a win over Chris I’m definitely going to be knocking at the door of title contention.”
Also confirmed for the card is a hugely significant bantamweight fight between London’s Brad “One Punch” Pickett (20-5) and 135-pound fireball Renan “The Baron” Barão, who boasts the longest unbeaten run in MMA having won all his last 26 fights. The winner of this fight will certainly be a major factor in the division in 2012.
Pickett, a former semi-pro soccer player, holds wins over Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar, makes his UFC debut and said: “I’ve wanted to fight in the UFC all my life and making my Octagon debut in front of my home ground is a dream come true. Renan Barao is a huge fight, he’s but I want to be the first ever British UFC champion and I’m going to beat Barao and then go on from there.”
Fighting out of Rio, Brazil, Barao is widely regarded an emerging force in the UFC. The training partner of UFC featherweight king Jose Aldo said: “This is a very exciting fight and one we wanted. A win over Pickett will take me one step closer to the title. As far as fighting Pickett in his home country, I’m not worried about that. We are going to work for the knockout or submission over Pickett.”
Also confirmed for the televised part of the card is a slugfest between UFC lightweight veteran “Relentless” Paul Taylor, 11-6-1-1, and Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani, 14-5-0-1. Fighting just 10 miles from his home at UFC 138, three-time Fight of the Night winner Taylor will have to meet fire with fire against Njokuani, a three-time KO of the Night and one-time Fight of the Night winner.
Spike TV previously aired UFC 89 from Birmingham, England in October 2008 featuring Chris Leben in a main event fight against Michael Bisping which delivered 3.4 million viewers.