By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun
Being good at fighting wasn’t always the best way for James Martinez to grow up. But it seems to be a good way for him to build a career.
“Growing up in Tucumcari, there was a lot of fist fights there,” Martinez said. “I moved to California and went to a gym for a couple of days (in 1998). I just had it in my mind that I wanted to be a fighter.”
The 1996 Tucumcari High School graduate has certainly met his goal, being a week away from fighting Alvin Robertson for the lightweight championship of the Ring of Fire, a mixed martial arts division.
The fight takes place next Saturday at the Douglas County Event Center in Castle Rock, Colo. Martinez, 28, earned the title match by winning Ring of Fire 21 on Feb. 11 with a knockout of Hiro Kamikozono in the first 1:12 of the first round.
A quick ending is not unusual in MMA, or mixed martial arts. In Ring of Fire 21, only two of the 11 fights went longer than six minutes. Ring of Fire promoter Sven Bean said the few minutes of a mixed martial arts event are usually exciting because the fighters have more freedom than boxers.
“The main component is when the one or both of the opponents hit the ground, the fight continues,” said Bean, who is also the acting manager for Martinez. “Whereas boxing can only win by knockout or a TKO (technical knockout), martial arts (fighters) can also win by submission holds.”
Bean said MMA appears to be more dangerous than boxing, but it’s not because one or two solid blows can end an MMA fight while boxing often involves 12 rounds of repeated blows to the head.
“If somebody cannot intelligently defend himself, the fight is over,” Bean said. “There’s no standing 8-count.”
Martinez hopes to end his fight against Robinson in a quick manner.
“He’s a pretty good wrestler,” Martinez said. “I figure he’s going to try and fool me and stand up. It’s going to be more of a waiting game for him. It’s going to be hard for him, because I’ll be working that whole time.”
If Martinez wins, Bean said he’ll likely fight in pay-per-view events like K-1 or the Universal Fighting Championship.
“If UFC is the A-level, Ring of Fire is B-level,” Bean said. “We put on a full production for the fighters.”
Martinez lives in Hawaii and works as a martial arts instructor on a part-time basis. He said he’s often done “odds and ends” jobs that give him free time to train for his fights.
Martinez, who participated in football, wrestling and track at THS, said he always felt comfortable as an athlete and had no doubts that he could be a professional fighter, even at a small size of 5-foot-8 and 155 pounds.
“Everybody thought I was crazy,” Martinez said of his decision to fight professionally. “Eight months down the line, I was fighting professional. I was always an athlete, always into sports. I’m real competitive.”
“James is an exciting fighter and an excited fighter,” Bean said. “He’s not necessarily the hometown hero, but he’s earned enough fans with his performances because he’s come here and fought hard.
“Even in a loss, James puts out 100 percent.”
Martinez has also boxed and kickboxed. He holds a 2-1 boxing record and a 26-2 kickboxing record. Martinez has an MMA record of 10-4, with two of his losses by decision.
“I don’t plan on letting (next Saturday’s fight) go that long,” Martinez said. “I really don’t like judges deciding my fight.”
On the Web
Ring of Fire: www.rofmma.com