On Friday, June 28, Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) will make its promotional debut in Wisconsin with LFA 70: Ferreira vs. Martin. The event will be headlined by a heavyweight tournament semi-final bout between two LFA debutants, Brazil’s Renan Ferreira (5-1) and Michigan’s Brett Martin (7-1).
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Martin, 25, is widely considered the state’s top heavyweight prospect. In an interview with The Body Lock, Martin discussed his beginnings in mixed martial arts, competing as a superheavyweight, what he hopes to accomplish in the sport, and much more.
Brett Martin’s foray into mixed martial arts
Like many MMA fighters, Brett Martin’s first experience with combat sports occurred on the wrestling mats. A high school state champion at 285 pounds, it was in the gym of Michigan powerhouse Hesperia High School that Martin began wrestling.
“I actually wrestled with a couple [of] kids from Hesperia High School way back in the day,” Martin told The Body Lock, “and when I was in college, a couple of them had started fighting for KnockOut Promotions (KOP), which was Matt Frendo from Lights Out [Promotions], who I just fought for.”
While his former teammates made the jump to MMA, Martin was still wrestling in college. But once his collegiate days were over, an off-the-cuff challenge eventually drove him from the mats to the cage.
“A couple of my buddies just fought, and then once I got done with college wrestling, someone had seen me training one day – I just kind of went over and rolled with my friends – and they said they would fight me, so I took a fight in, like, two weeks, and then, [the] next thing you know, I was a pro fighter, and now we’re here,” recalled Martin.
Prior to turning pro, which he did in 2016, Brett Martin had a successful 7-1 amateur career in which six of his seven wins came by way of knockout. In addition to his proclivity for knockouts, Martin also avenged his lone loss in the amateur ranks.
Martin eventually moved to the professional ranks as a result of the state of Michigan’s new approach to sanctioning professional and amateur mixed martial arts.
“As an amateur, you know, I kinda just fought whoever they said; picked the best guy, or, like, the best guy at the moment or somebody that wanted to take the fight. So, I won a couple fights grappling, and then I won a couple of fights by knockout, and then the sanctioning in Michigan hit, like, literally two weeks after I had just knocked out the guy at super heavyweight that was ranked number one – and I had just beat the heavyweight that was ranked number one like a month before that – so, once sanctioning hit, it just made sense to go pro,” said Martin.
Brett Martin is a large man. A former NCAA wrestler at 285 pounds, Martin has in the past taken advantage of superheavyweight opportunities, but no more.
“Obviously, the UFC doesn’t have super heavyweight, so I don’t want to take fights at super heavyweight because it doesn’t mean anything. Even if I win, they’re seeing the guy that tipping the scale at 285, 290 that should be tipping it at 265. If I want to perform at the top level in the world, and in almost everybody’s eyes… I wanted to do all my professional fights as a heavyweight, but as you can see there’s a couple on there that are superheavyweight,” said Martin.
“My first fight a guy backed out so I took a fight against a super heavyweight on like two weeks’ notice. My last fight, the guy showed up 7 over. Obviously, I still took the fight, I had another fight where the guy showed up like 35 [pounds] over, I still took the fight. You know, I’m always down to scrap. At the end of the day, that contract, that professionalism comes from being a heavyweight. You know, I just want to work to get to the next level.”
Instead, Martin has consistently weighed in under the 266-pound heavyweight (non-title fight) limit. Martin’s cut, which was at times difficult early in his career, is no longer a problem. Everything, he says, is down to a science.
“I usually don’t walk around anywhere over three bills area [300 lbs]. Usually, even the 290s is kinda heavy for me. I usually walk around like 280, 285. So, basically, that’s just water, so I just try to cut my meals down a little bit, you know, watch my intake of water. I wrestled my whole life, so I really don’t have a nutritionist, you know what I mean? I never really had a lot of help with this, man. I kinda just put my head down,” Martin said.
Shining bright under the big lights
In his next fight, Brett Martin will jump up to the national stage. The Michigan native will compete in the main event of LFA 70, a billing he isn’t fazed by in the slightest.
“No, man, like I said, I’ve wrestled my whole life; I played football my whole life. I’ve competed in a lot of places, I’ve been on some pretty big stages, so it’s definitely surreal. [Though, fighting in LFA] means a lot more to me, like as a person and towards my journey,” said Martin.
“To take my first fight for LFA and have it be the main event; to be technically number one title contenders fight… it doesn’t get much better than that at the level I’m on. It’s absolutely awesome.”
Standing across from Martin will be a Goliath, Brazil’s Renan Ferreira. Ferreira, 29, is a 6’10” behemoth with a 100% finishing rate in his professional wins. His lone loss, a first-round submission, came to current UFC light heavyweight Vinicius Moreira.
Martin knows that he and his opponent look differently. And despite his massive size and reach disadvantage, Martin remains confident that he’ll get the job done.
“I’m guessing this Brazilian dude came along, and they wanted to do a heavyweight tournament, and [they] asked me. A couple of the guys said no and I was still in, and they kinda took all eyes off of everybody else and kept eyes on me. I feel I don’t have that big, scary, heavyweight look, you know? I’m not 6’10” like my opponent. I’m just a chunkier guy, so I had to cut down on my weigh-ins to compete on this level, so I’ve had no problems fighting anybody and beating anybody,” said Martin.
“At the end of the day, man, we all have to weigh in underneath 265, so whether you’re 6’10” or 6 foot, you got the weigh-in there. All of us hit hard, and like I said, I’m a pretty athletic guy, so I cover distance really well. I feel like I will stack up just fine. I’m not scared to chop the tree down. I used to wrestle; wrestled many guys that are 6’6’, 6’8”. I have a guy in my gym that I’ve trained with – he’s 6’9”. I’m never really the tallest heavyweight.”
To Brett Martin, the fight may go down a number of paths, but all of those roads lead to an exciting, fan-friendly performance.
“Like I said, I like to finish fights wherever. So, it looks like he likes to come out and get right to business, so you know, maybe if it’s not the first round… I always fight to the finish, man. That’s what the people like to see, whether it’s slick submission or full knockout. My plan is to go in there and take care of business right away.”
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.