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Francis Marshall Fought More Than Jitters in His UFC Debut

“I just wanted to dedicate this fight to my uncle.”

Francis Marshall’s UFC debut in Orlando went great when he picked up his second-round knock-out victory over Marcelo Rojo. Having won his entry into the UFC on Dana White’s Contender Series was just the first step into a process a lot of fighters go through, but Marshall’s fight week included more than UFC jitters. Marshall received word on fight week that he lost his uncle and dedicated the win to him.

Daniel Cormier who spoke with Marshall after his win was not able to let Marshall get the dedication out because of the timing of the broadcast but later expressed the sentiment before the next fight began. Afterward, Marshall was able to get his dedication out when he spoke with Brett Okamoto for ESPN

“I just wanted to dedicate this fight to my uncle, “ Marshall said, “ I got news Thursday morning that he passed away Wednesday night, early into Thursday morning. So just to come out here with that, I just wanted to put that out there for him.”

His uncle, his father’s brother who lived in New York eventually moved to Orlando where the event took place. He was going to see Marshall’s debut before his illness took a turn for the worse. Marshall admitted that the news jarred him, but in mixed martial arts staying focused is a tool learned early and Marshall was obviously able to keep his.

Having begun his training at 14 years old under Kurt Pellegrino, becoming a professional mixed martial artist has been a long-time goal, and Marshall said, “emotionally just trying to stay focused on the fight. I got the fight to worry about. It’s obviously a big big part of my life so just trying to stay focused. Tunnel vision and then, deal with the emotions afterward.”

The knockout victory was the first of his professional career and carrying those emotions into the cage likely helped Marshall win in such spectacular fashion. Picking up a win like that likely has his name in the minds of a lot of new fans. His uncle would be proud.

Marshall also revealed that he would like to stay as active as possible with a return to the cage as soon as March. Check out his full interview with Okamoto above.

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