Although doctors denied his request, Mark Munoz wanted to carry around the bone fragments removed from his elbow like chips in a casino. There were 24 in all.
That's where MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio) found him and got an update on his return following an injury and subsequent surgery that scratched him from the recent UFC on FOX 2 card.
Munoz's doctor says he'll be able to return to the cage in late June or July, but he's planning on coming back before that.
"I told him I'm like the Wolverine," Munoz (12-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) said during an MMAjunkie.com Radio appearance this past week. "I'm going to come back sooner."
The UFC middleweight has dealt with the injury for two years, but in training for a fight with onetime title challenger (and current top contender) Chael Sonnen, it became more severe a week prior to the fight.
"It got to the point where with the onset of my injury, it dislodged from my bone and went into my joint space, and no matter if they pumped it up with cortisone, it was locking on me," Munoz said. "It was intense pain."
After a cortisone shot, Munoz got the bad news from a doctor in Los Angeles. Wanting to stay in the fight, he requested his elbow be treated with lidocaine, a numbing agent.
"[The doctor] says, 'If I do that, it could be a serious career-ending injury,'" Munoz said.
Sonnen went on to outpoint Michael Bisping in the co-main event of UFC on FOX 2, which took place Jan. 28 at Chicago's United Center and aired on FOX. He subsequently was tapped to meet champ Anderson Silva in a rematch from their UFC 117 bout in which Silva won by come-from-behind fifth-round submission. The fight is supposed to take place in June in Silva's native Brazil, a country Sonnen has enraged with a smattering of insults.
Munoz said he'll be awaiting the outcome.
"After seeing that fight, I'm very confident that I belong at the top of that division," he said. "I truly believe that I could have had a great showing that night. But at the same time, things happen for a reason, and I trained for a whole camp and didn't think this happen.
"But obviously adversity strikes when you're not prepared sometimes, and I wasn't prepared. But I've got to look positive about it because I can't be negative because if I do, it's going to throw me into depression. I'm a man of faith, and I know that God has a bigger plan for me."
Munoz has history with both fighters. He wrestled Sonnen in college, and the two share the same manager. Silva he trained with on a regular basis prior to opening his own gym.
The prospect of fighting either fighter isn't necessarily comfortable, but Munoz said that Sonnen understands the situation. Silva wasn't as comfortable. After hearing the news that Munoz wanted to fight him, the champ expressed disappointment at the prospect of fighting a friend.
Munoz spoke with Silva backstage at UFC on FOX 1 after the champ playfully shot a double leg on him, and the two addressed the situation.
"I told him I wanted him to know my goals and my perspective on it and this sport, and I don't want to disrespect you," Munoz said. "He said, 'Oh, no, I understand. I stay here for a long time, and I come train with you.' He actually had to leave ... so I was like, 'Ugh, I can't finish our conversation.' So he left, and I talked to (manager) Ed Soares and he said, 'Hey bro, don't worry about it. It's all good.'
"So I was like, I don't know. I haven't talked with him face-to-face about it, and none of it's been squashed yet. I don't have a beef with him, and hopefully he doesn't have a beef with me. I consider him a friend. We talked about what (would happen) if I got up there, and he said he would be retired by the time I went for a belt. So we'll see what happens. I just want to be the best I can be at this weight class."