Bellator heavyweight fighter, Ryan Martinez, took some time Sunday night to talk with the guys at Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio about his upcoming fight this week and his recent move to Las Vegas. Martinez (8-2) will be fighting Travis Wiuff (68-16) this Thursday in a featured heavyweight bout on Bellator.
On paper, the match up between Martinez and Wiuff may seem quite one-sided. Wiuff, despite losing his last two fights, has a noteworthy record with wins over the likes of Keith Jardine, Ricco Rodriguez and Jeff Monson. Despite this, Martinez jumped at the opportunity to face Wiuff. He explained, “We want to fight the best people out there. And when my manager had talked to Bellator, and they kind of threw out, they were like, ‘Oh well all we got is Travis Wiuff,’ then my manager was like, ‘hell yeah, we’ll take that fight!’ They’re like, ‘Really? You really want to take that fight?’ Why not? You know, for me it’s a win-win regardless. You know, I’m not training to lose, but I mean the dude has almost ten times more fights than me. He’s got experience beating Jeff Monson, Ricco Rodriguez, he beat the former Bellator light heavyweight champ, Christian M’Pumbu. You know, he’s got an incredible resume. I think I’m right up with all these guys. You know, regardless of my past fights or what not, with my recent improvements and just my mindset I believe I can bang with anybody in the world, and I’m just here to prove that.”
Before this fight, Martinez made moved his family out to Las Vegas, NV to relocate his training. This was done on the urging of teammate and good friend, UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson. He now trains full time with Nelson and King Mo Lawal, and he has started working with Jeff Mayweather for his boxing. A much different environment than his hometown of Greeley, Colorado, Martinez sees Las Vegas as a big step up in the quality of his training. “The guys out here I train with are cool,” he said, “but it’s just the caliber of people out here. I mean my camp consists strictly of, you know, I get to mess with Roy Nelson everyday. I get to mess with King Mo [Lawal] everyday. And King Mo is always bringing in dudes from all over the world that just have different pedigrees and everything. They’re the top in their weight-class at everything they do. We have Blagoi Ivanov coming in every so often, and he’s known for beating Fedor [Emelianenko] in the world Sambo championships out in Russia. It’s been nothing but blessings since we’ve been here. Working with [Jeff] Mayweather, getting my striking done. It’s the best move definitely for my career.”
Another addition to Martinez’s training has been to work with famed boxer turned trainer, Jeff Mayweather. Uncle to arguably the most successful boxer to date, Floyd Mayweather, Jeff boasts a solid boxing career, at one point holding a super featherweight title. For Martinez, he feels that working with Mayweather is yet another step in the right direction for his career.
“First of all, the environment is what makes you a better boxer. You go in there and you see 20 hungry dudes ready to get it, then you just automatically want to get it in your head. Everybody that goes in that gym has the goal of getting to be a world champion, or they’re training for their next fight ready to kill their dude. Just going in there, seeing everybody with blood, sweat and tears, hearing the music pumping and waiting for their turn with certain people, that just motivates me every time I’m there. As far as working with Jeff, I’m kind of crazy to train because I like to smack talk and do whatever else, and he just kind of goes along with doing it. But he’s a very knowledgeable person to learn from. If I have a question, if I feel out of balance doing something or if I feel like [a] combination is a little tricky… he’ll tell me, ‘oh just turn it over, move you foot a little bit more, move your head a little to this side,’ the questions I have for him he’s able to answer right away. After watching Roy and Mo and being able to follow in their footsteps working with Jeff, it’s been another blessing in my career, being able to throw four, five hundred punches a round, it’s good, man.”
Martinez will be looking to display his improved striking this Thursday at Bellator 93. With an impressive win, he could be looking at entering the Bellator heavyweight tournament. For Martinez, that opportunity, and the subsequent chance to work his way to the heavyweight title, is the ultimate goal.
“It always sounds good, man, but getting that strap around your waist in front of a sold-out audience and on national TV in front of a million people, that’s more a victory than winning a hundred G’s. You know, $100,000 comes and goes, but that belt, that’s yours forever… I ain’t even worried about a $100,000 check, I’m just worried about staking my claim in the heavyweight bracket. Man, money ain’t a thing, I mean it’s always good, but being able to finish your opponent or beat credible opponents and just say, ‘yeah, I’m the best in my weight class in this organization,’ that’s what it’s all about man. Of course the money’s always good, but it’s more of a moral victory for me rather than about the money.”
This drive, which Martinez thinks Bellator’s tournament style advocates, makes for exciting fights. “Everyone is hungry in Bellator,” he said, “you’ll never see a boring fight especially in the tournament format. Obviously in a tournament, the further you progress the more money you make, and everybody’s trying to get that big payday, so everybody’s fighting their heart out. Honestly, I can’t say I’ve ever met somebody in Bellator who’s not hungry.”
“Don’t be surprised if Bellator is neck-and-neck with the UFC in the next few years. Personally, I like Bjorn [Rebney]. Dude is cool, he’s real humble. He’s cool to everybody. You can be some dude off of the street… and of course he’s going to shake your hand and ask you how you are back. He’s just a real down-to-earth type of dude. Not like a lot of promoters that I’ve met, you know.
“As far as what he’s doing with Bellator, I mean obviously, you can see it from [the move from] MTV 2 to Spike, you know, the ratings on Spike, we’re almost at one million. With that being said, imagine a couple years from now when the promotion is locked and loaded, they’ll be right up there with the UFC. They’ve signed major talent from Russia, and you can just expect big things to come from Europe, Canada, Brazil, all over. It’s crazy.”
Before leaving the show, Martinez commented on a recent video interview in which he called out Frank Trigg for some personal history the two shared. “I ain’t got no beef with the dude. The only thing is… when I was in the Pro Elite Tournament, you know, first round I drew Mark Ellis. They do their little talent interviews, right? Basically they were asking me how did I start fighting, what I did prior to fighting. I ain’t one to hide my past or what I’ve been through, so I told them, you know, I did some time in prison before I started fighting. Right away his little antlers perked up, and he was like, “Oh yeah? Well how long were you in prison? What did you go to prison for? Oh, you’re a typical Colorado native…” And it was like, the dude just wrote me off, he didn’t even give me a chance. After watching the fight on film, you know, these guys were so on Mark Ellis’ nuts, it was like, “Damn, these guys don’t even know me…” But yeah, it was like that, I never had a chance. So, even when I was walking out, I had my walk-out music on- this was after the fight, I was watching my fight on television- and they said, “Oh yeah, he did some time for distribution of methamphetamines, and Frank Trigg had to put in a little two cents, and the whole first he was rooting for Ellis, and once he realized Ellis couldn’t take me down and this and that, he kind of hopped on my side… this dude wrote me off, you know, talked all kinds of smack on me on national TV, then all of a sudden come to find out this dude goes and chokes his wife out, you know, it was just my little way at getting back at him. “
You can watch Ryan Martinez fight Travis Wiuff this Thursday at Bellator 93 live on Spike TV, which begins at 10 pm ET.
Also, be sure to check out the rest of Ryan Martinez’s interview here in an episode also featuring rising star, Sergio Pettis, and RFA phenom, Chidi Njokuani.