When discussing his nearly year-long absence from the Octagon, an absence that comes to an end this Sunday when he faces Rob Whiteford in the featured UFC FIGHT PASS bout on Fight Night Zagreb, Lucas Martins makes it clear that he’s happy to finally be back.
“I would fight every weekend if the UFC would let me,” he said. “I am a fighter, and I enjoy fighting. I train year around, and just wait on the UFC to tell when they want me to fight.”
Having said that, it’s really no surprise that when the 27-year-old Minas Gerais native suffered a cut above his eye shortly before his May 2015 bout against fellow featherweight prospect Mirsad Bektic, he had no intention of pulling out of the fight.
“Oh no, I am a fighter, that is what I do,” Martins said. “I look for reasons to fight, not reasons why not to fight.”
If you didn’t know by now, Martins learned that attitude in the gym as a member of the storied Chute Boxe team. Once home to the likes of Rafael Cordeiro, the Rua brothers, and Anderson and Wanderlei Silva, Martins is the new breed under coach Diego Lima, and while he lost the bout to Bektic, to Chute Boxe team members, it’s most often about the battle and not the end result.
In a pro sport though, winning matters, and after starting his career at 15-1, Martins has lost two straight, making a victory this weekend a high priority. So even while being sidelined, he’s done everything he can to stay ready.
“I always train like I have a fight, so the secret of staying sharp is to never get dull,” he said.
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And in Whiteford, he will have someone willing to give him the type of fight he craves.
“Whiteford is very good, from a great camp,” Martins said of his Scottish foe. “He has big wins in big fights and I have trained very hard to be prepared for his game. In the UFC, all fights are very hard.”
Some are harder than others though, especially when faced with an opponent who can nullify your strengths and make you fight his fight. Martins has been down that road before, most notably with swarming wrestler Darren Elkins, who decisioned the Brazilian in October of 2014, and he is prepared for Whiteford to eventually try to implement a similar game plan.
“I think he will be just like Elkins,” Martins said. “He will stand with me until I hit him, then he will try only to take me down. My strikes turn MMA fighters into wrestlers.”
Gauntlet thrown. But it’s not like Martins wants to goad Whiteford into a brawl with some well-placed verbal jabs. He just wants to give the fans the same kind of fight he wants to have.
“This fight will be very exciting,” Martins insists. “They (the fans) will know I am looking for a knockout every second of the fight.”
Welcome back, Mr. Martins.