View this post on Instagram
Training at the gym of our friends in Lubbock @differentbreedmma1 Mucha suerte @martinez3jonathan en tu próxima pelea en UFC en la semana que viene!!!
A post shared by Valentina Shevchenko (@bulletvalentina) on Oct 15, 2018 at 10:52am PDT
Jonathan Martinez couldn’t stop looking at the local MMA gym, and every day he told his girlfriend about it. Eventually, she told him to get over there because she paid for a membership.
“She took me there and for the whole week, I got beat up,” said Martinez, a newcomer to the UFC’s bantamweight roster who makes his Octagon debut on October 27 against Andre Soukhamthath. “I didn’t want to go back. I kept getting kicked in my stomach and my legs and I didn’t like it. I told her this is not for me."
His lady had a response for him.
“I paid for the whole month, so you’re gonna stay there for the whole month.”
Martinez laughs about it now and, for the record, he listened to his girlfriend and when back to the gym for week two.
“I stood, I got better and I started liking it a lot and I stuck with it,” he said.
Ten pro fights later, and the soft-spoken Texan is in the biggest show in the sport, and he can’t wait to show what he can do against the best of the best.
“I didn’t believe it and I still don’t believe it, but it’s exciting,” said the 24-year-old, who got the call of a lifetime on short notice when Gavin Tucker was forced from the Soukhamthath fight due to injury. But to the “Dragon,” it wasn’t short notice at all.
“I don’t think it’s a short notice fight because I already had a fight lined up and I was getting ready for that one,” he said. “They just pushed it back a little bit.”
That October 19 LFA matchup with Cee Jay Hamilton would have been Martinez’ first bout since a 56-second submission win over Randy Hinds in September 2017. The ensuing year has been full of starts and stops, making it a frustrating time for the bantamweight prospect.
“One time I did get hurt and the rest of the time I was trying to get fights,” he said. “They’ll pull out or they’ll say no, so it was hard for me to get a fight.”
He even got a couple calls from the UFC, but the stars never aligned until now.
“I got called once, but it was a real short notice fight. Then I got called again and I was hurt, so I had bad luck.”
That’s all changed now, and in Soukhamthath, he’s got an opponent he believes he matches up well with.
Related: Cummins Seeking Rare Quick Fight in Moncton
“I’ve seen him a couple of times, but when they told me his name, I didn’t really know who it was,” Martinez said. “I was right next to my brother and he’s like, ‘I know who that is, I’ve been watching his fights.’ Then I looked him up and I thought that would be a pretty good matchup.”
A cool customer, Martinez isn’t changing his approach to the bout, refusing to put too much weight on the reality of stepping into the Octagon for the first time.
“I see it another fight,” he said. I don’t want to put a lot of stress on myself. Pretty much all the fights I have out here are pretty big, so nothing has changed really. The same thing I was supposed to do to that guy, I’m gonna do to this guy.”
But what about Martinez’ girlfriend? In a lot of ways, she may be responsible for this journey he’s on right now. What’s her take on this whole UFC thing?
“She told me, ‘Do this for yourself and go in there and show everybody you belong there.’”