Brett Martin (9-1-1) has always marched to the beat of his own drum. As an amateur, Martin fought multiple unsanctioned bouts sans a coach or gym. Armed with only a wrestling background and what he taught himself about MMA, “Big Dog” took eight fights in a year’s span.
He went 7-1.
Then it was time to turn pro and that meant getting serious about fighting. Martin now splits his time at Triumph Muay Thai and Black Lion where he works closely with rising UFC prospect Jamahal Hill.
When a ‘W’ doesn’t feel like a victory
Since the move to a major gym, Martin has amassed an 8-1 record as a professional. As impressive as that may be, the road hasn’t been without its potholes. Martin entered the Legacy Fighting Alliance heavyweight tournament last year. LFA is largely a feeder organization for the UFC and often draws the eyes of UFC brass. A good showing there could change everything. In the semi-finals, Martin’s opponent landed multiple blows to the back of his head resulting in a disqualification.
The DQ meant that Martin technically won and advanced in the tourney. In the finals, in an almost unfathomable twist, he would again win after his opponent was disqualified for throwing illegal knees.
“It took me a while to accept that those instances were not my fault,” Martin told The Scrap. “It was like a nightmare, not scary or anything; it was just this déjà vu. It was sh*tty because I worked really hard. I always get a lot of hate because of how I look. I’m the guy taking these fights and I look the way I look. A lot of these guys that are poster boys that they say deserve to be in the UFC may be cute, but they don’t take the fights I take.”
A rare asset
Martin is 6’0” and cuts to the heavyweight limit of 265-pounds. He’s portly and lacking the chiseled physique of a Francis Ngannou. But he’s also a top heavyweight under the age of 30.
For fight promotions, finding athletic men of that stature has often proven to be a difficult task. Many heavyweights opt for the bigger payday in more established sports. There are of course good heavyweights but many of them are pushing into their forties. This makes Martin a commodity.
“I just turned 26. If you go back a year and half, I’m 25, and I beat a guy who was a prospect on The Ultimate Fighter and the Contender’s Series (Josh Parisian). They want young guys. Well, I’m young. They want guys who will fight anyone. Well, over the last year my opponents combined records were like 28-8. All of those guys are legit. So I’m doing these things and I just have heard no feedback at all. It’s all about making those connections,” Martin explained.
Fighting for his spot
He was recently working those connections at UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns. He flew to Las Vegas to corner Jamahal Hill at the event. If that’s the closest he ever gets to the Octagon, he gets it. He never got into fighting with the intention of becoming a champion (though he now holds three regional titles). He actually never expected it to go this far. At this point, the dream is to help his friends grow and succeed. That doesn’t mean he’s not pushing towards his own goals, but Martin is happy in his role of lifting his partners.
Going forward, it’s only fights that make sense to Martin. Recently he was scheduled to take on Tony Lopez—the number one ranked regional heavyweight—but that event fell victim to the pandemic. He’s also been in talks with the LFA matchmakers since the promotion landed on UFC’s streaming service, Fight Pass. PFL and Bellator are also on his radar as is the returning Contender’s Series. Martin, though, knows he’s UFC ready.
“I see myself beating a lot of them [UFC heavyweights]. I see guys get poked in the eye and rush back in there or say unprofessional things. As you saw in my last two fights, I’m very smart. I don’t talk to the ref until I know I can say the right things. That’s a big thing, having that kind of knowledge. I’ve been scheduled for five or six championship fights. How many guys can say they’ve done that before entering the UFC?”