Undefeated as a professional, with a 19-fight amateur career, it’s been a steady rise for Grande Prairie, Alta.’s Alex Martinez (7-0).
The next step is a lightweight showdown in his PFL debut with the always dangerous Loik Radzhabov (13-2-1) at 2021 PFL 1 on Friday night in Atlantic City, N.J.
After another decisive finish in his last outing, Martinez, 26, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join PFL, one of MMA’s fastest growing promotions.
“We were going to take a random fight anywhere just to stay active, but at the same time we knew it was time to jump up to a bigger promotion just because we were at a higher level,” Martinez said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“The opponents they were putting in front of us, we weren’t destroying, but we were doing our thing. It’s time to go for the big dogs.”
Proving to be an exciting talent, Martinez has only gone to decision once in his professional career.
Of course, Martinez would love to steal the show and add to his highlight reel Saturday night, but he won’t be rushing into anything.
“As soon as the bell rings I will try to pursue the finish anyway possible, but I won’t force things. I take what’s given to me,” Martinez said.
“The only time I’ll force stuff is if things aren’t going my way and I need to get a finish. I just like to flow with my opponent and sometimes they give you the openings you were looking for. All the finishes I have are because of repetitions I do in the gym.”
Focused on the challenge ahead, Martinez hasn’t put too much thought into the reality of joining a roster featuring the likes of Anthony Pettis and Rory Macdonald, but when asked about it he said it’s definitely exciting.
“I think my experience has kind of prepared me for it,” Martinez said.
“I knew that I’d be up there with guys like that soon, I’ve been thinking like that for years. It’s nice to be here, but it’s time to go to work and get a job done. I’m excited to show the world what I have up my sleeve.”
Standing across the cage from Martinez on fight night is no stranger to high-level competition.
In five fights during PFL’s 2019 season, Radzhabov made a name for himself with exciting performances and unquestionable durability.
“I think it’s a tough matchup,” Martinez said.
“What’s in front of me right now is a very high-level fighter who imposes his will a lot and sometimes that makes for the toughest fight because they’re never going to quit and they’re going to be in your face and keep going all three rounds.”
Every fight Radzhabov is in seems to turn into a brawl at one point or another, and that’s something Martinez will look to avoid, if possible. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t ready for it though.
“You have to mentally prepare to go to war pretty much, but at the same time I can’t let that change my style because my style is a lot about being elusive,” Martinez said.
“I know he’s fought tough opponents, but I’m prepared for it. I’m always looking for training partners who have performed at high levels so I can be ready to swim with the sharks.”
Carrying a height and reach advantage into the cage, Martinez will look to use his high-level taekwondo prowess to control the cage and pick Radzhabov apart.
“I’m really hoping my movement will annoy him a lot, to the point where I can start tagging him from a distance,” Martinez said.
“Most of the fighters I’m up against I want to stay nice and long with lots of feints and movement, just to overwhelm them. Eventually, he will probably shoot in or rush in recklessly because he seems to be a very reckless fighter. He doesn’t even care about being hit, he just moves forward. I love to set traps, moving backwards and forwards.”
It’ll be a matchup of contrasting styles, and when Martinez and Radzhabov take to the cage on Saturday night, they’ll both look to prove their style is ultimate.
“I’m excited for the fight,” Martinez said.
“His style is 100 per cent what my style doesn’t like and my style is what he doesn’t like. We’ll see which style is better and I’m confident it’s mine.”
“All my coaches, my father, Luis Martinez, is always there for me and with me. All my sponsors, my wife, my mother, my sister and brother, and all my teammates back home.” Follow Martinez on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM