Roque Martinez, the DEEP Megaton Champion, meets Jake Heun this weekend at RIZIN 16 in Kobe, Japan. The Guamanian is 9-1 in his last ten, with his only loss since 2011 coming from Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic via a cut inflicted by the Croatian kickboxer’s elbow.
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Despite his career going rather well, Martinez has had some frustrations with fighting lately.
He defended his DEEP title in March— stopping Ryo Sakai in the first round — but surprisingly, Martinez wasn’t happy with his performance.
“Through the lead up of the fight, man, I was kind of stuck in a point where I wanted a big fight. I mean, it’s hard to get as big a fight as Cro Cop, but I wanted a big fight, another big name. At the same time, I wanted to stay active.”- Martinez told John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock.
Martinez felt he should be facing higher-level competitors than Ryo Saki, who sports a .500 record. He, of course, respected Saki, but Martinez has been in there with “Cro Cop” and another kickboxing/MMA legend in Jerome Le Banner. The defense felt like a step backward. Yet, Martinez also understands that closed mouths don’t get fed, so he took the fight.
Martinez wanted to use the opportunity to bounce back from the “Cro Cop” defeat in style. He was ravenous to get back into the win column. He wanted to show there are levels to the fight game and Saki wasn’t on his. After the fight, he realized this mindset had actually caused him to underperform.
“I actually had this thing set in my head that I was going to beat him in 30 seconds and when that didn’t happen, and he survived past the 30 seconds, it was pretty clear that I got frustrated. I was just kind of getting a little bit wild and just throwing looking for the one-hitter-quitter. And it wasn’t my style of fighting. Like, I think I’m more of a smarter brawler than what I showed.”
Martinez learned from the experience. He learned not to chase the finish and to just let the fight happen naturally. To just have faith in his abilities and allow them to carry him to victory. This newfound fistic philosophy will likely be on display when he meets Jake Heun this weekend.
RIZIN 16 and beyond
Heun called out Roque Martinez after he beat Le Banner years ago. The two later met at an event and were friendly with each other, but it seemed as though their paths were destined to cross at some point. So when RIZIN called Martinez and offered the bout he jumped at the chance. In Martinez’s mind, the matchup is a winnable one. He doesn’t think Heun is a bad fighter by any means, but he also feels Heun may be a jack of all trades and master of none.
“I think he’s actually a pretty decent fighter all around. He’s all around decent fighter. Like I don’t see too many weaknesses that I could really pinpoint, but I also don’t see anything that stands out to me like, ‘oh, I got to watch out for this or that.’ You know?”
To Martinez, it’s a good fight to be the final one on his RIZIN contract. A combatant always wants to come off of an impressive win before they go into contract negotiations. Heun is a name and should give Martinez the kind of brawl he generally thrives in.
“That is kind of why this is a pretty big fight for me. I mean, I put on a good show then, you know, I’ve been in no negotiations, but I’ve had some interest from other promotions and it comes down to this. it comes down to this fight. That’ll open a lot more doors for the opportunities and the money,” Martinez indulged.
Of course, money isn’t everything.
“Whoever I go with, my main thing more so than the money is I want to be active. I don’t know how many years I have left in fighting, but I for sure want to be active while I can. As long as I’m injury free, I just don’t want to be one of those guys that fight once a year or twice a year. For me, minimum, at least three, I go do four [fights]. I could do every show up as long as I’m not hurt.”
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.