In April after winning his fight against Keita Nakamura, Tony Martin was feeling good. He just moved up a weight class (to welterweight) and improved his record in the UFC to be above .500. Martin was ready to get back in the cage quickly. He tried to get the fight with Neil Magny in England but wasn’t given the opportunity, the only fight the UFC wanted to make with Martin was between him and Ryan LaFlare. It took quite a while for the fight to be made because LaFlare was injured, but it was finally set for UFC 229 on October 6.
“I’m just excited to have a fight finally and have a date more than anything else. It doesn’t really matter who I’m fighting I just want to know a date so I can prepare and get ready, I’m pretty excited.”
He was also told that the loser of the fight is going home.
“Pretty much the loser is going home, I’ll probably be cut by the UFC, so it’s kind like one of those fights, this is do or die, this is one of those fights. I think Ryan is on his last fight o his contract he told me. I was told by Sean Shelby, if I just go out there and win these next two fights its not going to be enough to stick around so I gotta go out there and put on an impressive performance and fight for my job.”
Martin doesn’t feel the pressure to perform in his next fight, he just feels a little bit disrespected.
“There is never added pressure, I put a lot of pressure on myself. But honestly, I just think it’s a little disrespectful by Sean, where he is always acting like he’s doing favors for everyone. I’ve never once turned down a fight for him, I’ve taken three short notice fights for the UFC. When I didn’t want to take them, a short notice fight, especially when I was fighting at 55, it didn’t make sense. Those were fights where making weight was a process. Now, obviously I moved up to 170 and I’m asking for short notice fights, I’m trying to jump into fights and I gotta sit on the shelf for 6/7 months off a win, it doesn’t make sense.”
He also said that the word on the street is that he and Ryan aren’t fun fighters to watch.
“Pretty much what I’ve heard on the street is me and Ryan are considered the most boring guys in the division and that’s why we’re going to fight.”
And he says it won’t change his approach at all.
“And honestly, I’m just going to go out there and handle my business, I’m not going to fight any different. I’m not going to fight any different than I fight for anyone else, I’m just going to do what I do, it’s either going to be good enough or it’s not.”
Martin said that he was told that his teammate at American Top Team, Colby Covington was in a similar predicament before he started talking, but that isn’t Martin’s style.
“I just am who I am, I’m not going to start saying crazy stuff just out of the blue for no reason. But I’m always, you can talk to Kayla, my coaches, everyone, I pretty much talk shit all day, 24/7. But my shit talking is not hostile, I’m not going just to go out and start attacking people and be like, this guy’s is a piece of shit, he’s a piece of shit, they’re a piece of shit. I’m not going to go out and start beefs for no reason. I just say what’s on my mind. I’m not one of those that’s going to try to hate you for no reason. That doesn’t make any sense, that seems like a horrible way to live your life where you have so much hatred for everyone and just be a hater.”
With that being said, all Martin cares about is being recognized as the number one fighter in the world and he believes in order to do that, he has to fight for the UFC. It doesn’t matter to him who he has to deal with, he wants to be the best. Though a fan of the sport and glad that the McGregor/Khabib fight is happening he doesn’t want to fight on McGregor’s card, he wants McGregor to fight on his card.
“My goal is to be headlining cards, be champion. I didn’t come to the UFC to go to my buddies and be like I’m a UFC fighter. I don’t give a shit about the UFC, honestly, I don’t give a shit about Sean, I don’t give a shit about Dana, I don’t give a shit about the UFC. I care about one thing and that’s being number one in the world and that’s in the UFC, everyone knows that. To be the best fighter in the world, you have to be UFC champion. That’s all I care about, nobody else, nothing else out there in the UFC matters to me. I’m no there cause I like Sean or that I want this label of being this guy, this UFC fighter. No I’m there to be the UFC champion, that’s it.
But now, Martin can’t focus on anything beyond October 6. Now it is only about the fight between him and LaFlare and how he will win. After analyzing LaFlare, Martin categorizes him as someone who is a top twenty fighter in the division, but doesn’t have much knockout power, doesn’t attempt many submissions, and just tries to win rounds with takedowns and kicks. With that being said, Martin believes it’s a good matchup for him and he knows what they keys to his victory are.
“So my game plan is, I’m going to stuff his shots, keep the fight standing and make him strike and put pressure on him and I gotta make him take bad shots.”
Martin believes LaFlare has good wrestling but if he can force LaFlare into bad takedown attempts, by beating him on the feet and stuffing his initial takedowns, he can get a submission.
“I feel like my submission game is very high level, I feel like my finishes are one of the best parts of my game. I can easily catch him if he starts taking ugly shots.”
Another key to this fight is that this is Martin’s second camp with American Top Team. There he has been working with the likes of Colby Covington and Gleison Tibau. With more time at the gym, he believes the familiarity with his team will make a big difference.
“This will be my second fight at ATT, so all my coaches now are going to understand how I am, how I mentally think, how I react in the cage, how I react inside the cage after looking at the last one.”
As he has previously said, Martin may need a finish to stay with the UFC, but he is confident he can get it.
“I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to end, but I’m very confident that this one is going to be a finish.”