Pete Martin is a professional mixed martial artist holding an 8-4 fight record. He competes out of Wand Fight Team and is currently riding a three-fight win-streak. Tony Reid of MyMMANews.com recently caught up with Martin for a quick question and answer session.
Tony Reid – You started training at the age of four and received your first black belt by the time you turned nine. What do you remember most about your early martial arts training?
Pete Martin – “I went to a really traditional martial arts school. I don’t want to put any other schools down but I had a very strict instructor. It took five or six years to get your black belt and that was training four or five times a week. I still keep in touch with my instructor from back then. That was in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We did a lot more of the full contact kickboxing rather than traditional karate point tournaments. It was an awesome start for what I’m doing now later in life.”
Tony Reid – You were a standout wrestler in high school and wrestled one year at NC State as well. That was about the same time you were introduced to MMA. Can you talk about how that introduction happened and how it changed your life?
Pete Martin – “I actually injured myself in wrestling. I hurt my shoulder and I had some free time so I started looking at gyms. I got really bored not being able to compete in wrestling so I found a Jiu Jitsu school and the guys I ended up meeting there, who I still keep in touch with, are black belts under Royce Gracie. They run Team R.O.C in North Carolina, Jason Culbreth and Billy Dowey. They took me under their wing right away. I helped them with the wrestling stuff and they helped me in Jiu Jitsu. Jason is one of the guys responsible for getting MMA legalized in North Carolina so he would get me on the shows back then. I actually fought on his first show in North Carolina.”
Tony Reid – You have been known as a quick finisher in the cage. Can you talk about your fighting style, how it lends itself to quick finishes and if Mr. Wanderlei Silva has any influence on that?
Pete Martin – “Wanderlei definitely has some influence on that. After sparring with him the first two or three years I was out here (Wand Fight Team) and the pace we keep is pretty high. I like to put on a good show and even though I have a wrestling background I hate watching lay and pray wrestlers. That is one of the things I never wanted to do. I find the standup game to be more exciting just like the fans do. Even if my fights go all three rounds they are action packed. I hate to watch boring fights so when I’m in there I don’t want to make the crowd have to watch them either.”
Tony Reid – How did you end up in Vegas and working with one of the most legendary fighters in the history of the sport?
Pete Martin – “I actually came out to Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture. I had no idea Wanderlei had his gym out here. I moved out and I was going to train for my first pro fight at Couture’s. I liked it there, I came from a small school that was more like a family. I have to say the first day I walked into Wanderlei’s gym I wasn’t expecting him to be there but I walked in and it was him, Demian Maia, Vitor Vienna, Jordan Lopez and all these guys I have looked up to my whole life and I walk in and they are sparring. They asked if I had my gear and I said I did, that it was in my car. They said to go grab it and come in and spar, right on the spot! I went in and threw my gear on and started. That was kind of my initiation. I guess I was dumb enough to go back and they welcomed me into the family. It was a really close knit family back then. It was a great place to be, that was right when the gym opened. Wanderlei was training for his fight with Rampage, Maia was training there and was just getting started in the UFC.”
Tony Reid – What was the most memorable time in the gym with Wanderlei?
Pete Martin – “Any time you go with Wanderlei he spars the same way he fights. I don’t think there are any straight punches but those hooks come for days. It turns into just trying to survive the sparring with him (laughs). So fighting at 155 I’m not too scared of getting hit by any guys I come up against after working with Wanderlei. That’s definitely an advantage I have.”
Tony Reid – Being the head wrestling coach at Wand’s you work with the youth program all the way up to the professional fighters. Can you talk about the juggling act or the distance you have to cover between those two programs?
Pete Martin – “Absolutely. I’ll be honest with you, the kids are a lot easier to teach than the adults. When we stared we had five or six kids, now we have over 50 kids in the program now. We have 30 plus kids compete on weekends during the wrestling season as well. In the two or three years I’ve had them you can just see that they are going to be monsters. I have 12 year olds who I bring in seniors in high school to wrestle with because nobody their age can hang with them. All I know is that I need to get my fights in and retire before some of these kids turn 18.”
Tony Reid – We have all admired Wanderlei from afar and watched him become and icon in the sport of mixed martial arts. What is he like to work with on a daily basis? What kind of leader or boss is he?
Pete Martin – “One of the things about him, when I first came out here he was known as “The Axe Murderer”. He was in the ring stomping people in the face. But when you walk into his gym and meet him you see the person he is. He comes over and shakes everyone’s hand who walks into the gym with a big smile on his face. He is a very down to earth guy. He and his wife run the gym. Any time he is in Vegas he and his wife are at the gym. They are two very nice and very good people. When he gets into the cage he just has a different gear that most of us don’t have.”
Tony Reid – Being so close to the sport who are some of the guys you enjoy watching compete?
Pete Martin – “I don’t follow it as well as I should probably but I enjoy watching the guys I train with fight the most. Guys like Wanderlei, I trained a lot with Evan Dunham, Martin Kampmann, Matt Riddle, etc. I like to watch the guys I train with every day go out there and put it to good use.”