If you didn’t know Jonathan Martinez was a nice guy already, consider that when his phone rang at 3am one night, he didn’t hesitate to pick it up.
It was Martinez’ manager, Jason House, who had two words for him.
“Yes, sir, I’ll take it,” replied Martinez with no hesitation. But then, a pause, as the LA native realized that Swanson spent most of his career at 145 pounds.
“What weight,” asked the bantamweight prospect.
Martinez was still in. And then he went back to sleep. The “Dragon” had fought at 145 pounds before, and even spent a good portion of his career as a flyweight, but at bantamweight, he feels that he has the goods to make a title run.
“I feel a lot faster and stronger at '35,” he said. “And I have the cardio.”
He also has plenty of tools Swanson might not be ready for after fighting at featherweight since 2006.
“We're more active, we're more explosive, and a lot faster,” said Martinez when asked what Swanson will be experiencing on Saturday night in Las Vegas. “He's gonna see. He sees me on my tapes and may think I'm not that fast, but when he's in that cage, that's a different thing.”
What the UFC Hall of Famer will see in Martinez is a 28-year-old who has won five of his last six bouts in the Octagon, with three straight victories coming over Zviad Lazishvili, Alejandro Perez and Vince Morales. It’s the best stretch of his career and he feels like he’s only scratching the surface of his potential.
“I feel every fight I improve more and more,” he said. “I see it when I watch my tape, and every fight, I fight different, and I feel like I'm getting better and better.”
Which makes a showdown with Swanson in this weekend’s UFC Fight Night co-main event the right fight at the right time for him.
“It's perfect,” he said. “I really like it.”
If the always soft-spoken Martinez is feeling the pressure of the biggest fight of his career, he’s not showing it. And though he does know the magnitude of the situation in facing someone he grew up watching, when the Octagon gate shuts, it’s just another fight.
“I used to watch him and I'm still a big fan,” Martinez said of Swanson. “I think I was 14, 15 years old watching him in WEC and I wasn't even thinking about fighting back then. But at the end of the day, when that door closes, everything shuts down for me. It's the same thing as when I fought Thomas Almeida. I was a big fan of his, watching all his career, but when I was in the cage, I was ready.”
And he’s ready for this opportunity to extend his winning streak and make his case for a place in the bantamweight Top 15. And if the latter doesn’t come through now, he’s ready to take his spot in the rankings in 2023.
“I think that's the year people are gonna start recognizing me,” Martinez said. “I had my lows and had my highs, but I'm gonna get that ranking and people are gonna start seeing me and calling me out. And I want to show that in this division, I can do it all.”
UFC Fight Night: Grasso vs Araujo took place live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 15, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!