Anthony Rocco Martin at UFC Fight Night 142 in December was one of several foreign fighters to play Debbie Downer for fans in Adelaide, Australia, as he submitted Jake Matthews with a third-round anaconda choke. Martin, who went 3-0 in 2018, will return to the cage against Sergio Moraes at UFC Fight Night 146 on March 9 in Wichita, Kansas.
Martin’s clash with Matthews was not the first time he had traveled into hostile territory: He fought Leonardo Santos and Fabricio Camoes in Brazil. As a result, he entered the cage against “The Celtic Kid” full of confidence and prepared to enjoy the moment.
“I kind of like that,” Martin told Sherdog.com. “I like when the crowd got loud. They were getting after it for their guy.”
The results spoke for themselves, as the American Top Team fighter earned his ninth career submission win in a highly competitive battle. Martin credits his move to the welterweight division and his switch to the powerhouse training camp for his hot streak and maturation as a fighter.
“It’s just one of those things where it took time,” he said. “I didn’t know exactly who I was as a fighter yet. I came into the UFC so soon.”
After losing three of his first four fights inside the Octagon, Martin, 29, felt the pressure of his employment being in jeopardy. However, the promotion did not give up on him, and he has rewarded its loyalty with a 6-1 run since 2016.
“If I would have come in the UFC after I fought [Keita] Nakamura, they would be promoting me, they would be promoting me like crazy, but I [began] with a rough start,” Martin said. “I am going to keep pounding these guys out, taking them out one by one, until I get my opportunity, and I think after this next fight, some big opportunities should open up.”
Despite an 8-3 record inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Martin remains unranked -- a reality that surprises him.
“I thought it was a possibility,” he said. “I think that Ryan LaFlare was just out of the rankings, [and] I took him out. Jake Matthews was on a tear, as well. He was close to being in the ranking system, so I thought that either one of those guys could have possibly taken me out and been in the rankings.”