Wouldn’t it be Rad? – An Interview with Rad Martinez of Bellator MMA

Posted February 19, 2013 in
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Rad Martinez (R) will compete with Shahbulat Shamhalaev for the Featherweight Title

The crowd is amped, and all eyes will be on the ring. This single-elimination tournament will come down to who prepared more physically and mentally. In the words of famous ring announcer Michael Buffer, “Lets get ready to rumble!™”  

This Thursday, Feb. 21, Bellator, the second-largest MMA organization in the world will bring Bellator 90 to the Maverik Center in West Valley City. Bellator features  weight classes from Bantamweight (135 pounds) all the way up to Heavyweight (265 pounds), both men and women. Since its formal formation in 1993, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has become a powerful arena sport. The hand-to-hand combat is un-staged, the tournaments are well organized, the fighters well-trained and good rules and regulation ensure professionalism and safety, making this one of the most thrilling and sincere sports on pay-per-view. 
 
Thursday’s main event has Utah native Rad Martinez taking on Russia’s Shahbulat Shamhalaev in the Season 7 Featherweight Tournament Final. The featherweight class is one of the most competitive classes in the world. Martinez has had a great year, winning his last five fights. Still, this is the biggest fight of Martinez’s career. If he wins, he’ll take home the $100,000 tournament prize and a guaranteed title shot. If that wasn’t enough, this date with destiny has been rescheduled once before, after Shahbulat became ill before the original date in Atlantic City in December 2012. 
 
With a name like Rad Martinez, seems like you’d be destined for greatness, but this Bellator MMA fighter doesn’t take anything for granted. When asked by Bellator about his plans for the future, he says, “I just take life one day at a time. I work every day to improve myself as a person and as an athlete. Too many people focus on the future without taking care of business today. I’m going to focus on what I need to do today, and that will take care of the future for me.”
 
A very level-headed answer—not what one would expect from someone who punches people for a living, but Martinez is anything but typical: He’s Rad. 
 
In 2005, Martinez was going to school and taking care of his father, who has brain damage. His dad was in a severe car accident when Martinez was a just barely a teenager. A close friend had just started MMA fighting, and he thought that with Martinez’s wrestling background, he’d enjoy the sport. By 2007, Rad was competing in MMA. “Like wrestling, MMA is a grueling, demanding sport that tests you physically and mentally.” Martinez says. “ It’s just you against another man. Who has prepared more, who is in better shape and who has more determination?”
 
Rad’s background in wrestling might have given him the tendency for the sport, but this well grounded guy is also highly educated with a Bachelors and Masters degree in Business, which means he’s no stranger to sticking to a program and seeing it through. The long hours logged with Dad has also made him appreciate the strength that comes from intense training. “Most days, we lift my dad 20 or 25 times, and he’s   
6 feet tall, 190 pounds.” Being so close to someone who is unable to do things for himself, I wondered if his father’s physical state motivates him to push harder and further. “So many people could [fight in MMA]. My dad used to be able to do this—things could be gone in a flash. I don’t want to take for granted what I can do now”. 
 
Becoming an MMA fighter is hard work. I looked for the website, “Couch to MMA fighter” like the Couch to 5K program, but alas, it just doesn’t exist. “It’s not like you just go out, get into a bar fight and now your a fighter. There is a lot of training and preparation,” he says. Martinez credits a good team, coaches, workout partners, workout programs like cross fit, and first-rate gyms like The Pit Elevated in Orem and Golds Gym in West Jordan, as the tools he needs to take his body through the fight. 
 
Martinez’s team also includes his new fiancé and grandfather, both of whom have to watch him train, fight and sometimes fail. When asked who his biggest critic would be, he says, “That’s probably my grandfather. Even when I was wrestling, he was like, ‘Just come home: You have family responsibilities, helping your dad.’ And when I come home with bruises, he asks, ‘How can that be winning?’ But every now and then, I hear him bragging about my accomplishments.” There will be lots of bragging and celebrating in the Martinez household come Thursday night if Martinez can continue his winning streak. 
 
Can Rad bring home the title and calm his critics and start a new chapter of his life holding an MMA title and cash to start a family? Tune in Thursday evening, live at the Maverik Center or via spike.com to stream the preliminary fights at 8 p.m. ET, and at 10 p.m., when the main card begins on Spike TV.
 
Preliminary battle rounds include six Utah-based athletes, and leading up to Martinez’s fight, catch Muhammed "King Mo" against Emanuel Newton in the light heavyweight tournament semifinal. Jacob Noe vs. Mikhail Zayats. Bryan Baker vs. Douglas Lima and Raul Amaya vs. Ben Saunders will all be matches of the semifinals for the welterweight tournament.
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Rad Martinez (R) will compete with Shahbulat Shamhalaev for the Featherweight Title Martinez has exhibited dedication not only to MMA, but his father and Bachelors and Masters degrees in Business Martinez (R) has a background in wrestling, which helped him find his MMA niche. Bellator is the second-largest MMA organization in the world.