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Marquez now knows he's built for UFC stage


Between training, moving and interviews, Julian Marquez has had quite a month since earning a UFC contract on Aug. 1.

“It’s been insane,” he said a couple weeks after his highlight reel knockout of Phillip Hawes on week four of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. “Everything that happened, happened all at once. I’m moving, plus there’s all of the greatness that came from what happened in my fight, so I’m all over the place. I’m not used to it. But it’s amazing and surreal. It’s a euphoric feeling almost.”

Some fighters can’t handle all that, especially not at once. But the 27-year-old Kansas City native seems to be one of the select few who can. The Hawes win and a previous 82-second knockout of UFC vet Matt Hamill should have proved that Marquez has championship potential, and more tellingly, star potential.

But when asked if he knew he was built for this, he’s honest in his response.

“No, I never looked at it like that,” he said. “All I ever wanted was to be a part of the UFC and to be able to go after the belt and be the world’s greatest on that platform. When you watch it on TV, everyone looks at the fighters like they’re these spectacular monsters, these animals, these vicious people. And when you watch it, you start believing what everyone starts talking about.

“And it wasn’t until I went to my first UFC fight and I watched these guys weigh in and watched them compete, and I sat there and I watched my teammate at the time compete. Then I realized that with me being able to compete with him, that it was not what everyone made it out to be. They are vicious, don’t get me wrong. (Laughs) But so am I. I can be that same person. I believed I could do that.”

Just 5-1 heading into the DWTNCS fight, Marquez was considered the underdog against the highly regarded Hawes, with a UFC contract seemingly a foregone conclusion for the Jackson Wink MMA product. Marquez wasn’t concerned, though. In fact, he didn’t even know who his opponent was before the fight.

“I ran into him at the (UFC) PI (Performance Institute) and I didn’t even know it was him,” Marquez said. “I was sitting there eating lunch and this guy was looking at me but I didn’t think anything of it.”
Julian Marquez punches Phillip Hawes during Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series
Teammate Josh Stansbury let Marquez knew who was looking at him.

“So I just got up and walked over to Phil and introduced myself,” Marquez said.

Then they fought, and in the second round, Marquez scored a head kick knockout that ignited social media feeds. Needless to say, “The Cuban Missile Crisis” wasn’t intimidated by Hawes or his resume.

“The thing is, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter what someone’s accolades were, what their physique looks like or what they’re built up to be,” he said. “What matters is that whenever you’re in that cage, how you perform. If you have to live up to the expectations of others, you’ll pull yourself down. You won’t be who you are. So I didn’t care. I don’t look at people as who they were or who they could be – I look at where they’re at now and what they do in that cage. That’s pretty much it.”

Marquez’ turn is coming up next, and it will be in the UFC Octagon. Is he ready?

“I’ve been ready for a long time,” he said. “This is a new beginning. It’s my time, it’s my era and I’m ready to go out there and have fun. What better stage is there to have fun on than the UFC, where you finally have the world watching you? They’re gonna see this 185-pound, furry little boy jumping around the cage and they’re just gonna be like, ‘Wow, this dude is really weird, but he’s pretty cool.’"