UFC Pittsburgh’s preliminary card is headlined by the ever-improving Tony Martin taking on Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
UFC Pittsburgh is just two days away, even though the card has had some surprises, most notably Thiago Alves withdrawing from his co-main event against Mike Perry, Saturday night’s fight card is one of the more underrated events of the year thus far. A bright spot on the card is the exciting prelim headliner, Tony Martin vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
On paper, this fight is even in nearly every relevant statistical category, and the victor positions himself nicely as a serious top 15 talent.
Cageside Press had a chance to speak with Tony Martin just days before his big fight in Pittsburgh.
Following Martin’s brilliant last performance against Johnny Case, you would think a main card slot would be warranted, especially against a quality opponent like Olivier Aubin-Mercier. However, the prelim headliner slot does not bother Tony Martin one bit.
“I like headlining the prelims on FS1,” the Illinois native said. “I think more people will be watching and we will get more coverage than if we were the first fight on the main card. No matter where I fight I’m looking to put on the fight of the night.”
What makes this fight so intriguing is that both competitors are on the cusp of breaking into the top 15 and making a serious run at the lightweight elite.
Martin is fully aware of the situation, “He [Olivier Aubin-Mercier] has a big name. I really like the matchup, and I’m looking forward to stepping in there and showing my skills.”
Martin showed the world his evolving mixed martial arts skills in his last outing in June. It’s no secret that he wanted a quick turnaround, but is September too soon?
“I wish they [UFC] would’ve given me more of a notice for the fight,” said Martin. “They only gave me five weeks’ notice, but I was training, I don’t stop training. It always comes down to weight with short notice fights, but I wanted to get back in there as soon as possible and keep building momentum.”
For over two and a half years Martin has worked tirelessly on his striking game with boxing coach Eddie Alvarez, and it has done wonders for the 27-year-old game.
“We call him the ‘Real’ Eddie Alvarez, he isn’t the UFC fighter,” Martin said. “He has helped me with my boxing so much, it’s just been a huge boost to my striking and confidence and it showed in my last performance.”
The UFC’s lightweight division is arguably the deepest and most competitive in the entire sport of MMA. The man who currently sits on top of the 155-pound throne is Conor McGregor, and with his MMA career up in the air, the UFC has decided to create an interim title.
Next month’s UFC 216 will crown the new interim lightweight champion when Tony Ferguson takes on the surging Kevin Lee, but was this the right fight to make?
“I can see how Lee talked himself into this fight,” Martin stated. “He beat Chiesa and Chiesa is no pushover. I actually picked Chiesa to win that fight, I thought Lee would lose his last two fights but he found ways to win. Ferguson and Lee is going to be a good fight.”
No doubt the Ferguson/Lee fight is going to be fun, but equally as exciting is Saturday night’s contest between Martin and Aubin-Mercier.
Catch all the UFC Pittsburgh action Saturday, September 16, live on FS1. Prelims kick off at 8 p.m. EST with the main card starting at 10 p.m.