His timing might have been off on the Wizard of Oz joke Saturday at UFC Wichita, but after a dominant win over Sergio Morales, Anthony Rocco Martin feels his time is now.
Wichita, Kansas — It’s time! That trademark Bruce Buffer phrase might easily be applied to Anthony Rocco Martin these days. On Saturday night at UFC Wichita, Martin simply dominated Sergio Moraes, picking him apart with devastating calf kicks, on route to a one-sided unanimous decision. 30-27s on all three scorecards underscored the fact that Moraes never really came close in the fight.
Now, Martin is running with a full head of steam at welterweight. And aside from a dad-level joke about not being in Brazil anymore, Toto (get it? Kansas? Toto? And Moraes is from Brazil?), the night was pretty much perfect. Leading Martin to believe that now is his time.
“It feels good, 4-0 at welterweight,” Martin told reporters including Cageside Press backstage at the Intrust Bank Arena following the fight. “Obviously I’m looking for the finish, always. I think that, I was just picking him apart so well I was just like ‘hey, it’s working, I’m just gonna stick to this.'”
“That’s how my game plan is in every fight,” he pointed out. “I’m going to keep it on the feet, if I feel like I’m losing on the feet, I’m gonna take it to the ground. Ideally I’m just going to stay on the feet the whole time.”
That didn’t quite happen at UFC Wichita on Saturday, if only because opponent Moraes “got that early cheap takedown.” But while Martin “wasn’t very happy with that,” it worked out in the end. “I came up, he latched onto that guillotine, I feel like I’m almost impossible to guillotine.” When Moraes couldn’t complete the submission attempt, he tried to just hold on to the head, and the ref stood the pair up.
“That early in the fight, there’s always a little bit of concern,” Martin admitted. “You don’t want to take any unnecessary chances, especially when we’re very dry. But I’m very confident in my grappling game. I started with Brock Larson seven, eight years ago now. I’m very highly confident in that department, I think I can grapple with anyone in the world.”
The highlight in the fight, however, was the consistent leg attack by Anthony Rocco Martin. “If they start compensating for my leg kicks, then my right hand starts landing… If they start missing that right hand, then I know the low kicks are there,” he said of his approach. “It’s kind of one of those things where, he was defending my right hand very well, so I started throwing those calf kicks that me and Mike Brown work every single day, and Thiago Alves.”
It’s an approach he expects others to mimic. “Eventually, I imagine that everyone’s going to start throwing them.”
Overall, Martin gave his performance a solid grade. “B+, A- minus or something,” he suggested, noting that he “stuck to the game plan.”
In fact the only negative in the fight was the bad joke afterward. “They didn’t get it. I don’t know what happened,” he exclaimed.
“First I messed up Toto about fifteen times when we were practicing it,” Martin confessed. Yes folks, that joke was practiced. “I keep saying ‘Tito,’ they’re like ‘where’s Tito, who’s Tito?’ I’m asking Mike about three times before I get on this mic like ‘Toto? Tito? Toto?’ and he’s like ‘Toto, Toto, Toto!'”
“I thought it would be a hit here for sure, but no one got it,” he added. “I thought I nailed that one, but aww jeez. It didn’t work.”
“I think that now is my time. I really need to make a push.”
Not at all. The good news is, Martin is not paid for his stand-up comedy efforts, but for his fighting. And that has been very, very good through these past four rights at welterweight. As he suggested in the cage post-fight, it looks like Minneapolis is up next. That goes down June 29 in the Minnesota city, where Martin started his fighting career.
“I think that they have to give me someone in the top fifteen,” he said of a possible opponent. “And I need to be on that ESPN card to get as much viewership as possible. I think that now is my time. I really need to make a push. I just need an opportunity, and the opportunity has to be someone that’s ranked, and give me a high spot on that ESPN card.”
As for the upcoming Chicago card (Martin grew up in the area), that’s just a little too close to girlfriend Kayla Harrison’s next fight. “She might try to kill me if I do that,” Martin joked.