Munoz remains hopeful after holdout

Veteran middleweight Mark Munoz is, at least for now, a free agent.

The UFC dropped Munoz (13-5) from its promotional rankings on Monday, as he is not currently under a UFC contract. Officials said the two sides are negotiating a new deal that would keep Munoz in the UFC.

Munoz, 36, told ESPN.com that he elected to exhaust his old contract in hopes of building leverage at the negotiating table. Things didn’t go according to plan, as Munoz lost the final bout on his old deal in May via first-round submission to Gegard Mousasi.

“For me, I wanted to get the most favorable contract I could get,” Munoz said. “I was holding out until my last fight and if I had beat Mousasi, which didn’t work out for me, it probably would have boosted my likelihood of getting that contract.

“I had all the confidence that I was going to beat Mousasi. It kind of backfired. I don’t know what the future holds for me and the UFC, but hopefully they accept me back.”

When asked if Munoz would pursue offers outside the UFC, where he has fought since 2009, he basically said he hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

“Obviously, the UFC is the organization to be in,” Munoz said. “It’s the top dog. I am the type of guy who wants to stay with the top organization.

“Having said that, I do have a wife and kids, you know? I want something that’s good for my family. I do want to stay in the UFC, though. There is no other organization I want to fight for.”

Munoz is 8-5 all time in the UFC, but has gone 1-3 in his past four fights.

According to numbers released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Munoz made $42,000 to show and a $42,000 win bonus for a unanimous decision over Tim Boetsch at UFC 162 in July 2013.

Regardless of whether Munoz re-signs with the UFC, he is currently facing an injury layoff. Munoz said he suffered a torn MCL and strained ACL in his left knee during the loss to Mousasi, which took place in Berlin.

The injury will not require surgery, but Munoz is expected to be on the shelf for at least two to three months with little activity.

“It happened in the first takedown, when I had him up in the air,” Munoz said. “For some reason, I landed on my side and he was able to scramble out. As I got back to my feet, I noticed a lot of instability in my leg.

“I ended up getting desperate after that. I couldn’t push off the knee. I couldn’t fake and follow up with strikes. He knew I wanted to shoot and wanted to take it to the ground. I wanted to mask that with feints, but wasn’t able to do it because of the front leg. I don’t want to make excuses, though. It’s just what happened.”