Editor Note: This article was published prior to the UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson event change. Nate Diaz will now fight Tony Ferguson in the main event, Khamzat Chimaev will fight Kevin Holland in a catchweight (180) co-main event and Li Jingliang will fight Daniel Rodriguez in a catchweight (180) bout. | Order UFC 279: Diaz vs Ferguson
It’s been incredible to watch the ascension of the UFC strawweight division as one of the best divisions in the sport. The UFC has done an incredible job of identifying talented athletes to join the roster and create competition inside and outside the rankings.
One of those athletes looking to come into the fray and make an immediate splash is 25-year-old Melissa Martinez. Hailing from Estado de Mexico, the undefeated Martinez enters the Octagon at 7-0, with five of her wins coming by way of knockout.
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The UFC must have liked what they saw out of Martinez when she competed in the Combate promotion, considering the fact that she was able to jump straight to the UFC without appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series or The Ultimate Fighter.
That’s proof, in and of itself, that Martinez is a bright prospect that fans should have their eyes on.
On Saturday, Martinez is looking to prove that’s she’s more than deserving of being in the big show by earning a victory in her debut against Elise Reed at UFC 279: Chimaev vs Diaz.
“I am a fighter who gives it all until the last moment; a fighter who always seeks to move forward and who always pressures my opponent until the last moment,” Martinez told UFC.com. “Without a doubt, if you follow every minute of my fight and my strategy that we’ve developed, you can believe the results are going to happen.”
Obviously, getting a win and maintaining her perfect record would be ideal, but keeping the undefeated label isn’t adding pressure to Martinez’s debut. It’s just an expectation.
“I imagine that the UFC wanted to have me on the roster because of my undefeated record and the achievements that I’ve accumulated in my career, so far,” Martinez said. “It was important to be able to have this great opportunity and I’m very excited to be in the biggest company at this time. I don’t feel pressure, I am just enjoying this.”
Another reason that this event is particularly special for Martinez is that she’s competing on the same card as fellow Mexican Irene Aldana. As someone that’s been in the UFC for years and climbed the rankings, Aldana has, in many ways, helped inspire Martinez to blaze her own path to the UFC.
“It’s a great motivation to be able to share this fight card with Irene Aldana, a compatriot that I admire, and this is an honor for me,” Martinez said. “It means a lot to me, and it motivates me so much to be representing my country well.”
Aldana shares Martinez’s sentiment and is proud to have another Mexican woman setting an example for the sport in Mexico. She also offered some words of encouragement for Martinez prior to her debut.
“Melissa, just enjoy it,” Aldana told UFC.com. “It’s a dream come true for every fighter to be in the UFC. I’m so proud to see more Mexicans here in the UFC and I know you’re going to do such a great job.”
With the stage set, all that’s left for Martinez to do is enjoy every part of her first fight week. The interviews, the ceremonial weigh-ins, the walk out to the Octagon, to feel the energy from the crowd and soak in the moment, and then introduce herself to the world.
The fight itself, that will be a dream come true.