UFC lightweight Tony Martin is coming off the biggest win of his career against Johnny Case, and we spoke to him following the career turning point.
For most fighters, being signed by the UFC is the ultimate goal. It’s a bit sweeter arriving at the pinnacle of combat sports with an unblemished record. This was the case for Illinois native Tony Martin, who at the age of 24 was both unbeaten and poised to make his first walk to the Octagon.
Martin made his debut at UFC 169 against another new face, Rashid Magomedov. Magomedov would go on to beat Martin by way of unanimous decision. Just six short months later, Martin would get another chance at his first UFC victory.
UFC Tulsa (2014) pit Martin against UFC vet Beneil Dariush, things would not go in the way of the young Illinois fighter. Martin, who was perfect in his professional career before testing the waters at the highest levels had now tasted defeat twice in two tries.
Few people can understand the ups and downs that athletes at the highest levels experience day to day. Martin would not be exempt from these mental hurdles, questioning if he did belong in the UFC. Lesser fighters would have folded.
Fast-forward three years, Martin has worked out all the kinks, and he is now on an impressive three-fight win streak. His most recent victory coming at UFC Oklahoma City against Johnny Case.
Cageside Press recently caught up with the Team Sityodtong stand out to talk about his new UFC deal, who he wants to face next, and more.
The adage goes, “don’t leave the fight in the hands the judges.” That’s easier said than done, as was the situation in Martin’s last fight. He did take the unanimous decision win over Johnny Case that night, but it was close. “I thought I did enough,” Martin said about his performance. “I clearly took rounds two and three, and I hurt him more times in those rounds as well.”
In January, at UFC Phoenix, Martin’s original opponent was Erik Koch, however, that fight fell through and is no longer relevant in Martin’s mind.
“I’ll fight anybody. But the fight I want is the guy that ran through him (Koch), Clay Guida. That’s who I want, give me him.”
“I want top 15 guys”
The Illinois native is known for fighting as frequently as possible, so it’s a bit odd that he does not have his next fight scheduled.
“Well, my last fight was the last on my deal,” Martin explained. “So, we got together with Sean (Shelby) and got a new four-fight deal done, so now I want to get back in there and build momentum.”
As to how soon he can keep building that momentum, it’s a bit unclear, “I wanted to get back in there in September, but it looks as if they’re all booked up. Hopefully October, but definitely before the year ends.”
At this point in his career, Martin isn’t looking for any handouts, “I told them, ‘I’m here to fight the best guys, I want top 15 fights, guys with names.’”
“He’s the only guy that can do what he wants”
The lightweight division is loaded with guys with “names.” Unfortunately, the biggest name, Conor McGregor, is masquerading as a boxer, and he just so happens to be the champ.
When asked about a possible interim title in his division, Martin stated, “I think you almost have to, I mean Conor is boxing, he is the only guy that can just do whatever he wants to. If he makes $100 million in this fight with Mayweather, why would he fight again in the UFC for five (million)?”
The Team Sityodtong fighter raises good points, and armed with a new four-fight deal and his sights aimed at the top 15, Tony Martin is looking to make his mark in a stacked lightweight division.