Don’Tale Mayes knew exactly what he needed to do when the dust settled on his submission loss to Rodrigo Nascimento in Jacksonville.
“I went home, focused on strength and conditioning and getting my weight back up,” Mayes told UFC.com. “That last fight, I came in lighter than I ever came in, and going against a grappler, I feel like that was a grave error for me. I went back home, got my weight up, and I’m at least 15 pounds heavier than I was last camp.”
Heavyweight is interesting in that because the weights can often vary anywhere between 230 and 265 pounds, and so how fighters carry that added or trimmed physique in the Octagon can indicate how they’ll perform.
For Mayes, a heavy-hitting alumnus from Dana White’s Contender Series, he is aware that his opponents know he would rather stand up and trade leather, so becoming adept at keeping the fight there was of high priority.
“The added weight stops people from being able to just pull me down to the ground,” Mayes said. “I’m getting more power out of it, and I don’t feel no slower. I feel like I’m able to move with the weight, and as long as my cardio is strong, then the weight don’t matter.”
The physical tinkering has accompanied a mental one, as well, and Mayes hopes he has done enough to finally secure his first UFC win in his third try. He isn’t unfamiliar with the long road, though. Mayes lost in his first Contender Series bout, didn’t earn a contract in his second one despite winning via second-round finish, and finally got the offer when he scored a first-round TKO in 2019.
Against, Roque Martinez, Mayes hopes the third time is the charm in the Octagon once again.
“It’s still the beginning. It’s a process. Even though I gotta look at the mistakes from the previous fights, I’m going in here not even thinking about the previous fights. I’m going in here looking at this fight and the execution I gotta do to get this win.”
In his last fight against Rodrigo Nascimento, Mayes felt good until he made a “little mistake” that resulted in his foe taking his back and eventually sinking in a rear naked choke. Against Martinez, Mayes expects a fun fight until he lands a good shot. Then, he expects Martinez to try to neutralize Mayes by taking the fight to the ground, but Mayes feels confident that he’s done the proper physical and mental work to prevent that reality.
Although his UFC record sits at 0-2, Mayes isn’t putting more pressure on himself to win. He just wants to give fans a fun fight, and ideally score a finish. He admits to thinking about earning a performance bonus in the middle of a fight, distracting him from the work he wants to accomplish. This go-around, though, none of that is in his mind. He wants to show how much he has developed in his time on the roster and give a preview as to what’s to come in the future once he gets that elusive first UFC win.
“I’m just trying to show what I’ve been knowing I could do from the get go, which is going in here and do me and get the win,” he said.