“I don’t want to be like everybody else. I’m following my dreams.” Meet undefeated José Martinez Jr. pic.twitter.com/Yzc2yjmqQz
— The Ultimate Fighter (@UltimateFighter) April 30, 2018
The daughter of Jose Martinez Jr. may only be six years old, but he’s already given her some solid life lessons that will carry her a long way in the future.
“I always try to tell her that you have 24 hours in a day,” said the Brooklyn native. “All you need is six hours of sleep. The rest is to build your dreams and make everything happen.”
Spoiler alert…on The Ultimate Fighter: Undefeated, the Team Miocic lightweight does get in more than six hours of sleep over the course of the season. But he’s got a good excuse.
“On the show, yeah, I slept a lot,” he laughs. “I think, as an athlete, if you’re going to be fighting, you need to train hard and get a lot of rest.”
He’s right, but sleep was at a premium when Martinez was making his way to the TUF house in Las Vegas, as he juggled training, work, school and parenting in his adopted home state of Ohio. Still, he managed to compile a 4-0 record since turning pro in 2016 after a lengthy amateur career, and he’s four semesters away from graduating college, where he’s studying robotics. But yeah, free time isn’t something he has.
“Before this, I would wake up, go to school full-time, and on the days I wasn’t in school full-time, I’d be at work full-time. And in school, if I had a three, four-hour break, I’d find a roofing or construction job I could do on the side for a couple hours and get a couple dollars. It’s been a hard struggle.”
But one he’s willing to make, just like his 15 peers on the show, all of whom have had their own struggles to get to this tournament and the opportunity to change their professional and personal lives.
“It was kind of breathtaking (to be on TUF) because you spent your whole life dreaming of getting to the highest pinnacle, whether it was boxing, MMA or wrestling,” Martinez said. “I’ve always been dreaming of this and finally I get sent here and I get to live in a mansion and it makes the dream that much real.”
None of the 16 fighters in the house forgets the work it took to get here, though, and in the eyes of Martinez, that created a different dynamic from past seasons.
“I think everybody’s gonna love this season because the cast is different,” said the 28-year-old. “We’re very personable and very respectful towards each other on the principle that we felt that we didn’t have to prove anything to each other. We’re all there, all undefeated, and all there for the same reason.”
To win. It’s Martinez’ sole ambition on the show, and once it’s over, he not only wants to compete against the best of the best in the Octagon, but he wants to box professionally as well.
At the same time, saying that three MMA fights and two boxing matches would fit his schedule perfectly. Sounds like someone who might like fighting a little bit.
“I love it,” he laughs. “I’m very passionate about fighting. It’s funny, though. To be a fighter, it’s like a love-hate thing. You love it so much, but you hate it eventually because of all the sacrifices you make. But there’s nothing better than being inside the squared circle or the Octagon with another person and knowing that it’s either them imposing their will on you or you imposing your will on them.”
It’s been quite a journey thus far for Martinez, and he’s not done yet. But from the start of his career to its eventual finish, he hopes people can take something away from hearing about that journey.
“I think it’s important,” he said. “It’s cool because the show tells people our stories and you get to see that a lot of us are living the same struggle from all over the world. We’re trying to make our sacrifices and get to that next level and you get to see us and get to know us and see what we have to deal with in our daily lives. And people love it, especially other up and coming fighters, because they get to see that they’re not the only ones in the struggle or dealing with adversity. We all have to deal with it and we’re all trying to overcome it.”