Rad Martinez knows what it's like to have responsibility.
The Utah-based fighter has been living a life completely different from you or nearly anyone else for that matter the last six years, taking care of his paraplegic father on a near 24/7 basis.
In his short windows of spare time, he trains to be a mixed martial artist.
A former college wrestling teammate of ex-UFC champion Frankie Edgar, Martinez has some very potent ground skills, developing striking abilities and his heart is unmatched.
After an emotional and revealing ESPN feature titled "The Promise," Martinez finally got his big break, signing with Bellator Fighting Championships. After going 2-0 with the promotion, he'll be making his tournament debut tonight (Oct. 12, 2012) when he takes on Argentinian Nazareno Malegarie on the Bellator 76 main card in Windsor, Ontario Canada.
Martinez spoke to MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission about whether life has changed since the feature, his history with Frankie Edgar and his confidence on winning the tournament in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Rad Martinez: Yeah, nothing's changed there. I still have to take care of my dad and I'm still training and fighting as hard as I can. It doesn't slow down even a couple days out from my fight. I still do my job here. He always needs someone to help him so I'm always here for as long as I can be.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you handle when you have to go out and travel to an event? Do you have a family member step in for you for a day or two? What's your situation like for that?
Rad Martinez: My brother comes in, takes a couple days off work and goes over and takes care of my dad. If he wasn't here or willing to do that, it would be impossible for me to fight. He comes in and does everything that I do and allows me to go off and do these things. Without him, I wouldn't be able to do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Your story on ESPN was extremely touching, but what struck me was not too long after it came out, Bellator scooped you up. Do you feel their signing of you had more to do with your story and exposure or how you'd been competing on the local circuit?
Rad Martinez: I think it's a little bit of both. At that time, my brother who's my manager was getting in contact with all the big name promotions like UFC, Bellator and Strikeforce and they kept saying the same things, "He needs a little more time, a couple more fights." Everyone seemed to be interested and Bellator was one of those, but I think the ESPN story gave me a little bit of publicity and I think it gave Bellator that final push. They already knew I was tough but that got my name out there enough for them to give me a call. The story kinda solidified it and made them think, "We want to work with this kid." I think the story definitely helped a little bit.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've gone out of your way and faced some tough guys. Your only two losses were against some pretty legitimate competition like Travis Marx who did well in this last Bellator tournament or Brian Cobb, a UFC veteran who was a title challenger for MFC
Rad Martinez: Yeah, Travis Marx was the second fight of my career and I had a tough fight with him and Cobb, he's an ex-UFC guy trying to get back there into the UFC. He's a really tough guy. They kinda threw me into the fire here right off the bat and I feel like I've done pretty well against some tough competition.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you feel you've progressed since signing with Bellator? In your first fight with the promotion, you relied on your wrestling but by your second fight (and having taken a bout in between that time) you just looked ferocious, scoring a TKO against Douglas Frey.
Rad Martinez: Once you get into a bigger promotion and you win some fights there, you gain confidence. I think that, more than anything is what I've gained over the last few fights. I've got confidence and I'm to a point where I feel like I don't necessarily need my wrestling to win a fight. I can go out there and put my hands up and if I put a couple of my knuckles on some people, I can get some knockouts. I've progressed pretty well in how I prepare for fights and I've also gained a lot of confidence.
Ben Thapa: How did you discover the fight game in the first place?
Rad Martinez: One of my buddies who fights in the UFC, Frankie Edgar's his name, he and I were on the same wrestling team in college. He started training and doing it before I did. The whole time he was doing it he kept whispering in my ear, "Rad, you've got to do this man, you'll love it!" He had some success and he just kept riding me and he finally talked me into trying it. I had one fight here locally and I just fell in love with the training and the sport and here I am today still doing it.
Ben Thapa: What kind of connection did you two have to have for him to be able to convince you that it would be fun to get punched in the face?
Rad Martinez: Well me and Frankie, we wrestled each other every day together for five years. He's like a brother to me so when we talked to each other, we ask for advice and we really listen to each other. He kind of knew my mentality and how strong I am, how I love sports and love to compete. When he was telling me this stuff, I had to listen. He's just like me. We know each other so well and I just had to do it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're facing Nazareno Malegarie, a very talented Argentinian who's been in two Bellator tournaments already. How much have you been preparing for that patented guillotine choke of his?
Rad Martinez: I've been prepping very much for it. I spent a lot of time working on my jiu-jitsu and my defensive jiu-jitsu. I know he looks really hard for that choke so I'll be watching my neck and also I'll be watching my wrestling. Like I said earlier, I'm getting confident in my stand-up so I'm not necessarily going to go out there and take him down, putting myself in harm's way where he's good at with his jiu-jitsu. I've been preparing but I've also been preparing to stand things up and work them out on our feet.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you like your odds to win this whole tournament?
Rad Martinez: I'm confident in my abilities but I'm not a cocky person. I'm not going to go out and say I'll for sure win it. I will say that if people are betting on it, don't bet against me. I find ways to win. I like my chances and I'm going in there to win. I'm not looking to win a little bit of money and say I made it to the tournament. I want to be a champion too. I'm feeling pretty confident.
Rad would like to thank his fight team at Pit Elevated and his teammates. He'd also like to thank his sponsors Gaspari Nutrition and Section 8 Clothing. He'd lastly like to thank his family, his brother and girlfriend. You can follow him on Twitter @RadMFTW.