Roque Martinez takes on Hideki Sekine at RIZIN 21. It goes on Saturday, February 22nd at Hamamatsu Arena in Hamamatsu, Japan. This is the fifth RIZIN appearance for Martinez and the DEEP Megaton champion is looking to impress. Martinez is on the heels of notching a second-round KO victory in December 2019 to defend that aforementioned DEEP Megaton crown. The man standing in his way as he returns to the RIZIN ring is Hideki Sekine. He has also fought for DEEP but has had a few appearances under the ONE Championship banner as well.
Though names like current ONE heavyweight champion Brandon Vera have been by to train, there are a core group of fighters at Martinez’s gym. Martinez said, “I’ve been at Spike 22 for years now. Since I’ve actually moved back to Guam. I kind of just stick with that same camp but every now and then if I fly somewhere, I’ll train around.”
The Guam support that Roque Martinez gets certainly has to be inspiring. The regular feature on local news, being a featured guest at the Guam Special Olympics, and so much more. Martinez stated, “It’s one of the crazier motivations for me. It’s such a small island. It really makes us proud to represent such a small island in a global thing like MMA.”
Martinez’s thoughts on Hideki Sekine at RIZIN 21 largely centered around Sekine’s grappling acumen and Martinez spoke to me about how he wants to keep things standing.
Martinez remarked, “I definitely respect his Judo. I know he’s a black belt in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu. Looks like he has some pretty decent wrestling as well. He has a really good top game. I’ve seen him when he’s on top of people and I’ve seen a couple of his Jiu-Jitsu matches.”
Roque Martinez concurrently fighting or DEEP as their open weight champion whilst competing as a Rizin heavyweight is interesting. The two promotions utilize different competitive frameworks for their contest but the old school mentality of Martinez doesn’t factor that in much. There’s no difference between competing in the DEEP cage versus the RIZIN ring to him. There are no differences between promoters evidently as the two organizations are seemingly endeavoring to keep this cross-promotional relationship alive into the future.
Martinez quipped, “I told the promoters at RIZIN that I want to fight a lot as long as I’m not injured. I would fight on every card if I could honestly….The relationship that DEEP and Rizin have, they’re pretty cool. Rizin’s cool with me fighting in DEEP and vice versa.”
For Roque Martinez, this whole experience is still kind of like a dream come true to him. The transition from fan to fighter in the Japanese MMA scene has done little to take the luster off of how he perceives big moments at some of these shows. Martinez said, “I remember when I first fought in RIZIN in 2017 against (Jerome) Le Banner, they did the whole opening ceremony. I thought back on how I used to watch PRIDE and all that. Just seeing the opening ceremonies….It was just a surreal feeling, you know?”