Jonathan Martinez: MMA Junkie’s 2023 Fighter of the Year Flying Under the Radar

4 Min Read

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” proves to be a tale as old as time when it comes to MMA awards. But the Under-the-Radar Fighter of the Year honor can allow for the quieter brands of quality to sneak through.

With that in mind, I thought it would be the perfect time to award one of the softest-spoken UFC talents, Jonathan Martinez.

Not only did Martinez add two impressive names to his resume in 2023, but the Factory X Muay Thai product also represented his team well by joining Edson Barboza as the only two fighters to finish multiple UFC opponents with leg kicks when he defeated Adrian Yanez this past October.

That win over Yanez marked Martinez’s sixth straight with the promotion, and he’s won eight of his past nine overall.

But if you actually understand what bodywork is and rewatch Martinez’s split decision loss to Andre Ewell at UFC 247, you’ll find some of the worst scores I’ve witnessed in the past half-decade in what should’ve been a clean sweep for Martinez.

But as I’ve been screaming on every platform for years now, MMA judging has a serious blind spot when it comes to grading bodywork and counters, and this fight is a perfect example of that given multiple judges awarded Ewell a round in which he was doubled over in body pain and running away.

If that fight was scored properly, Martinez – outside of a loss to Davey Grant in which he was a -600 favorite after the first round – essentially has won 11 of his past twelv12 UFC outings after his short-notice debut against Andre Soukhamthath in 2018.

Not only has Martinez been delivering impressive knockouts in said time, but the 29-year-old quietly has advanced his wrestling chops and boasts impressive stats both defensively and offensively.

Martinez also was able to crack the UFC’s top 15 rankings. He currently sits at No. 12, which is impressive considering bantamweight arguably is the deepest and most dangerous division in the current MMA landscape.

More importantly, Martinez is proving why he’s a fighter people like myself have been on high for some time, showing a sharp and savvy southpaw style that is difficult to deal with.

Although many may initially scoff at this comparison, I think Martinez is essentially a bantamweight Mirko “Cro Cop,” but with stronger wrestling in his back pocket.

If Martinez can keep this momentum going, don’t be surprised to see him crack the division’s top five by year’s end.

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *