Lin's character awes UFC's Muñoz

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 21 2012 12:49 PM | Updated as of Feb 22 2012 12:08 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Jeremy Lin mania has caught up with the Ultimate Fighting Championship's Mark "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" Muñoz.

"He's amazing, he's really one of the top stories in recent years, the best story perhaps," said Muñoz in yesterday's media briefing hosted by television giant ABS-CBN's sports cable channel BALLS at the 14th floor of the ELJ Bldg. in Quezon City.

"From getting passed up by two NBA teams to sleeping in stations waiting for trains and finally getting his chance and taking advantage of it, that's amazing perseverance and determination.

"All of those things that can help you become a champion, that's truly the best story, a very inspirational one and I love that," he added.

Muñoz, of course, was referring to newest NBA sensation Lin, an American player with Chinese or Taiwanese descent who has captured the hearts of many for breathing life back to the New York Knicks.

And Lin could be likened to 33-year-old Muñoz, who has also started to make a niche for himself in the mixed martial arts world as he is perhaps a fight or two closer to getting a crack at the UFC middleweight title currently held by Anderson “The Spider” Silva, considered the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter in the MMA.

"I've always been very religious, I pray all the time, I truly believe that Jesus Christ is our savior and everyday I commit to Him I know that He can make my path straight so I lean back and seek comfort from Him every single day," said Muñoz, a Christian like Lin.

The down-to-earth and humble attitude by Muñoz, who is recovering fast from an elbow injury he sustained during training that forced him to back out of his match with top middleweight contender Chael Sonnen last month, can be traced to his Filipino roots.

"It's my Filipino culture and how my parents raised me, it's about respecting people and treating them the way you want to be treated," said Muñoz, whose mother Imelda Kenery is from Sta. Ana, Manila and father Rodolfo Muñoz from Pasay City.

While he's enamored with Lin, Muñoz reitirates he still wants to be the Manny Pacquiao of MMA.

"I want to be the Jeremy Lin of MMA, for sure yes, but I've also been saying I want to be the Manny Pacquiao in MMA," he said.