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Julian Marquez rests backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at Moody Center on June 18, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Julian Marquez | A Small Town Kid Doing Big Things

Julian Marquez Reflects On The Struggles That Have Led Him To His Upcoming Bout At UFC 285: Jones vs Gane

Julian Marquez is remarkably upbeat for someone who may have the worst luck in all of mixed martial arts.

“I joke around with teammates and coaches and I'm like, ‘Man, if I ever have a perfectly clean fight camp, I'm going to be worried,’” he laughs. “It's very difficult, but it's just part of the process. You can't avoid it. I don't think any fighter out there has taken a fight with a camp that didn't have some sort of adversity in it. And that's the thing. I honestly believe that if I took a five-day notice fight, there's adversity right there at the beginning. You're taking a five-day fight; there's your adversity. And if you take a 15-week fight, your adversity might be your opponent falling down the stairs after tying a shoe. You just never know.”

UFC 285 Fight By Fight Breakdown

For those just tuning in, let’s recap a bit. Marquez made a name for himself in 2017 with a highlight reel knockout of Phil Hawes on Dana White’s Contender Series and joined the UFC roster. He went 1-1 in his first two UFC bouts, suffering a horrific injury that saw him deal with a completely torn latissimus dorsi muscle that sidelined him for nearly three years. He returned in style with bonus-winning finishes of Maki Pitolo and Sam Alvey before another year away which ended with a knockout loss to Gregory Rodrigues last June. In between everything, Marquez moved back home to Kansas City from Vegas to train with James Krause and Glory MMA, but with Krause suspended for the time being, Marquez moved to Colorado to work with Marc Montoya and the Factory X squad. Did I mention that Marquez’ December 2022 fight with Deron Winn was scrapped when Winn fainted and fell down a flight of stairs?

Julian Marquez Finishes Sam Alvey Via Submission | UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland
Julian Marquez Finishes Sam Alvey Via Submission | UFC Fight Night: Vettori Vs Holland

I was exhausted writing that. Imagine living it.

“Look, the last few months has been the last few years of my career,” Marquez chuckles. “There's always something, right? Every time we speak on the phone, there's always something that that's happening. And it's crazy. It's almost as if my life is supposed to be the way that it is. That way, I can show the world that it doesn't matter what happens on the outside, as long as you control your mental and as long as you control yourself, you can reach whatever you want. So the last few months have been no different than the last few years. I've been down this path. I've been down this road, I've had these types of situations, and I still go forward with the main goal. And that's continuing going after what I really want and what I believe in and what I love. So, with that being said, this is who I am, this is where I want to be, and this is it. No different than any other day of the week, any other month of the year, any other year; it's all been the same thing, the same story. Let's figure out something crazy that we could throw into that story.”

How To Watch UFC 285 In Your Country

It's an impressively positive outlook to have, and on the bright side, at press time, Marquez and his opponent for this Saturday’s UFC 285 bout in Las Vegas, Marc-Andre Barriault, are weighed in and ready to go for what should be an exciting middleweight bout. Then again, anytime Marquez steps into the Octagon, fireworks follow, and he’s got the three post-fight performance bonuses to prove it. It’s just getting there that’s been the issue, but Marquez doesn’t believe the MMA gods have cursed him.

Julian Marquez punches Phillip Hawes in their middleweight bout during Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series at the TUF Gym on August 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/DWTNCS)

Julian Marquez punches Phillip Hawes in their middleweight bout during Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series at the TUF Gym on August 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Brandon Magnus/DWTNCS)

“Over the years, I've had discussions with fighters and during camps and during fights and it's almost like every fighter has to deal with some sort of adversity for every fight,” he said. “And whether it's an injury, whether it's a family member, whether it's a coach, whether it's a friend or something that happened that pulls them out, you just have to face it. Because fighting is more than just a physical thing; fighting is about digging deep inside and making it to practice on days that you don't want to go, getting up at the time that you don't really want to get up to show up to the gym, or eating the food that isn't the greatest tasting, but yet it's the most fulfilling for what you do. Or saying no to that extra sip of soda or saying no to any soda or saying no to Taco Bell or McDonald's or any delicious amount of food. That's what fighting is. You're fighting your emotions, you're fighting your thoughts, you're fighting your injuries, you're fighting anything that could possibly be in front of you. That's what fighting is. And as a fighter, we're supposed to go through certain things like this. Does it get tiring? Yes, but it's part of the process, it's part of the journey. And if you don't love the process and you don't love the journey, then you won't like the end result or you won't like what you're doing. And then you can go work a 9 to 5 and do something that anybody can do.”

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Suffice to say that the 32-year-old is in this for the long haul, and if dealing adversity has been getting tiring, Marquez did get a positive jolt from his new team in Colorado as he prepared for Barriault.


“He's just the same type of coach as my previous coach, James,” said Marquez of Montoya. “He is very, ‘This is how it's going to be and this is how it's going to go.’ And you show up, you go here, this is how it is. It's very structured, he asks a lot, but that's what I need. I need someone to guide me. I don't pay for a coach to sit on the sidelines. I pay for a coach to tell me what to do. And I'll tell you what, Marc tells you what to do. (Laughs) He tells you what to do every f**king day, and if you don't do it, then he is not a happy camper. And that's what I need. I need that drill sergeant-style coaching, and I got it in Kansas City and I'm getting in here in Colorado, and they're putting extra time into me to help me grow. The teammates out here are phenomenal. From the lightest weight guy all the way up to the heaviest one, there's so much knowledge in the room, there's so much knowledge in the camp. And the best part about it is my teammates from back home are all coming out here to do a couple days in camp or train out here. So, I'm not really leaving home, it's still a lineage of my home. It's the mother tree. I was on a branch and we're coming home to the tree at this camp.”

UFC 285 EMBEDDED: All Episodes

On Saturday, Marquez and his new squad are in Vegas. It’s a pay-per-view card at a stacked T-Mobile Arena, and a chance for him to start again, but not in a new year, new me way. It’s still Julian Marquez, and that won’t change. Yeah, he’s happy to be here after everything he’s gone through, but if one day he gets to a world championship, he won’t feel like he’s earned it more than anyone else. He’ll just be happy to get it.

UFC 285: Jones vs Gane

“I'd appreciate it if I had it either way,” he said. “We all have a struggle, and we all have a story. Everybody struggled on their way to get there. Now the struggle may be different, and the push may be different, but, at the end of the day, every athlete in the UFC has struggled one way or another. So when I make it to my goal, that's going to be like, hey, you did it. You're just a small-town kid from Kearney, Missouri, that wasn't supposed to make it out of high school, wasn't even supposed to make it to the age of 25. And now I'm doing stuff better in my life and have a great, bright future.”

UFC 285: Jones vs Gane took place live from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 4, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass