Jonathan Martinez had the biggest win of his MMA career on Saturday at UFC Vegas 62, and by Monday morning, he was already back in “dad” mode. As humble a fighter as you’ll find, the “Dragon” not only rose above the disrespect he was shown by his opponent during fight week but let his actions do the real talking.
Martinez welcomed Cub Swanson to the bantamweight division with Performance of the Night TKO, brutalizing his opponent with leg kicks and elbows. After the loss, Swanson is “uncertain” of his future. On the other side, Martinez is on a roll after fighting one of his favorite fighters that he came up watching. The Los Angeles native spoke with All Access MMA on the experience afterward.
Jonathan Martinez On Fighting His Favorite Fighter and Becoming One Himself
“I didn’t really feel like I was fighting him, it was just another fight. I was the co-main event. I didn’t really feel like I was the co-main event. When I seen his interview, when he didn’t say nothing, like, I felt disrespected. I was like, ‘Man, he didn’t say nothing, I guess he don’t think I’m nothing really, like he’s just going to finish me and then go eat’ and I was like ‘All right’.
You know, I didn’t let that hit me, you know what I mean? I just had to go in there, and I just remember my coach telling me, ‘Remove the name from the face and just go in there and do you’, you know, and that’s what I did.”
After facing one of his favorites in the Octagon, the outpouring of support has shown Martinez that he is the favorite fighter of others. From signing autographs at his daughter’s school to having fans and family reaching out to him, it is definitely a level of notoriety he isn’t used to. He shared with All Access MMA that his heritage is making a huge impact.
“Yeah, I’ve been getting a lot of love,” Martinez said of the support he has felt. “Pretty much on my dad’s side, the Mexican side, but then my mom’s side too. Like, I didn’t know I had a lot on my mom’s side like that. They were just messaging me, like, they were really happy and stuff because I guess the Salvadorian side, they don’t really have no one coming up like that. There’s pretty much a lot of violence over there, so seeing one of their kind fighting, doing all these big things, it just gets them happy. So, I’m excited.”
Dominick Cruz or Pedro Munhoz vs Jonathan Martinez?
At 28 years old, it has felt like a long time coming for Martinez, who still has much more that he wants to accomplish. Despite earning one of the Performance of the Night bounses at UFC Vegas 62, he remains outside of the top 15, but has mentioned No.8 Pedro Munhoz as someone he’d like to face next. In the thrill of victory, he had even name-dropped No.7 Dominick Cruz, though dismissed it this week.
“Yeah, honestly, I don’t know why I said Dominick Cruz,” he told AAMMA, “because I don’t think they’re going to give him to me because he’s up there and stuff. I’m hoping. That’d be good if they did.”
When asked how he’d fare in such a contest, Martinez noted Cruz’s strength as something he could actually use as an advantage himself.
“Yeah, he’s really smart,” Martinez continued. “Like, he knows how to say what people are going to do, but I feel like every time I’m in there, I have something new. So, you know, if it happens, I’ll be pretty excited about that.”
“The Hard Work is Paying Off”
Leaving the fight against Swanson rather fresh, Martinez (16-4-0) feels like he is finally hitting his stride as a professional fighter. He’s now won his last four contests, improving his UFC record to 8-3-0.
“Yeah, I feel really good,” he said, “I feel like all the hard work is paying off. It’s just so crazy because when I started barely fighting, I was coming out fast and then I kept getting injured. Like, I was really close to quitting when I was like 21 because I wasn’t really fighting and stuff. I just kept training and just kept training, and now now I’m just here, so that’s pretty cool.”
What’s Next for Jonathan Martinez
Martinez will take in the victory while resuming his daily life as a father. Still, there’s work to be done in the gym, and he’s not trying to take a break. “Whenever, honestly, I wouldn’t mind,” he replied when asked when he’d like to get back to camp for another fight. “I don’t really got bruises, just a little on my elbows and stuff like that. Just the sooner, the better. Whenever my coach says it’s time.”
First, there’s the matter of a new UFC contract to handle, and coming off of a Performance of the Night over a name like Swanson should allow him to capitalize. Speaking of which, he has a nice $50,000 bonus to put to use in the meantime. What does he plan to do with the money? “I don’t know yet,” he laughed. “I don’t know.”