Leben versus Munoz gets lost in the shuffle

This weekend at UFC 138, Chris Leben and Mark Munoz have been handed an impossible task.

Compete for headlines with the one-man riot that is Nick Diaz? Good luck with that. Share the spotlight with the UFC’s debut on network television? Yeah, right. Jockey for eyeballs alongside the old-school goodness of Dan Henderson versus Mauricio Rua? See where that gets you.

Under different circumstances, Leben versus Munoz might make a solid co-main event on a larger show or a compelling addition to almost any pay-per-view undercard. As it stands, however, their fight will air via tape delay on SpikeTV this weekend and will certainly be the least talked about main event of a period where the UFC will do four major shows in as many weeks.

Hard not to feel bad for them getting lost in the shuffle like this. Both Leben and Munoz are nice guys and among the sport’s fiercest of competitors. They’ll say all the right things about being honored to be in a main event and competing for the fans in Birmingham, England, but you couldn’t blame either of them if they secretly feel like they deserve better.

Leben enters this bout having won four of his last five and on the immediate heels of his 27-second knockout of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132. Munoz has gone 6-1 since dropping to 185 pounds in 2009, with a first-round KO of CB Dollaway in March currently standing in as his own signature win.

There’s at least an outside chance that this bout turns out to be a title eliminator, if UFC brass can’t convince middleweight champion Anderson Silva to rematch Chael Sonnen and/or rumors of that pair coaching the first Brazilian season of “The Ultimate Fighter” turn out to be untrue. That makes it feel doubly odd this fight hasn’t made much of a dent in our collective consciousness.

There’s probably only one hope for Leben and Munoz to truly get noticed this weekend: Fireworks.

They’re both capable of delivering them. If they want to stand out from the crowd, they better deliver.