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Jonathan Martinez Is Gearing Up For A Big 2022

With Momentum On His Side, UFC Bantamweight Jonathan Martinez Sees Big Things On The Horizon.

It’s a week after Jonathan Martinez’ win over Zviad Lazishvili, and the bantamweight prospect’s leg is swollen from the October three-rounder, but there’s no place he’d rather be than back home in Texas with his three kids, who, not surprisingly, are a little low-key about their dad’s status as a fighter on the rise in the UFC.

“They still get nervous because their dad's in a fight and stuff, but it's pretty good,” said Martinez of his kids, aged 12, 10 and 4. “They don't really talk about it at all. I don't know why, I talk a lot.”

Martinez pauses for comedic effect, his timing impeccable, before laughing.

No, the “Dragon” will not light up social media with trash talk or answer one interview question with a five-minute answer, but that’s just his personality. And frankly, he didn’t get into this business to talk; he got into it to fight, and after winning five of his first eight UFC bouts, it’s clear that he made the right call.

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But after spacing four Octagon victories around a pair of decision defeats to Andre Ewell and Andre Soukhamthath, a March loss to Davey Grant saw him finished for the first time in a career that began in 2014.

He wanted to get back to work as soon as possible, but a series of mishaps, including opponent changes and a bout canceled due to a weight miss, kept him out of action until October, when he erased the memory of the Grant fight with an impressive win.

Jonathan Martinez poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event inside Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on October 18, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

“I felt good, I just had a lot of things going on,” he said of his 2021 campaign. “The fight I lost, then not making weight, and then my opponent backed out, and then finding out I was gonna be fighting this guy on Wednesday. It was a whole different game plan. I was getting ready to fight a left-handed guy who's a striker, and then I pretty much end up fighting a real good wrestler. But it was good.”

Replacing Aaron Phillips, the unbeaten Lazishvili entered the Octagon known for his grappling, but he decided to trade with Martinez, a development that surprised the LA native slightly.

“Just a little bit because everybody knows I throw a lot of knees and stuff, so they think about it twice when it comes to shooting in.”

The game plan didn’t work for Lazishvili, but it was just fine for Martinez, who left the UFC APEX with a win via scores of 30-27, 29-28, 29-28. Even better, after several months in camp with the Factory X squad in Colorado, Martinez got to go home. 

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“My leg's pretty jacked up, so I'm just relaxing at home,” he said after the bout. “I've pretty much been in Colorado for three, four months and I haven't been home with the family, so it feels good to be home.”

Jonathan Martinez kicks Liu Pingyuan of China in their bantamweight bout during the UFC Fight Night

Expected to be back in the Octagon in February, Martinez will return to work with his teammates, with family time left to occasional weekend trips home.

“It's kinda hard, it really is, but you just gotta do it for them,” he said. “There's good training over there in Colorado, so I do it, and once in a while I come down (to Texas) on Fridays - I drive back home seven hours and then leave Sunday.”

It’s not an easy life, but Martinez isn’t one to complain. He’s focused on business, and in 2022, he’s expecting an even better year than this one.

“I'm one of the prospects they're looking at, so that's pretty good.”