While in many ways the novel coronavirus hindered fighters during the first half of 2020, some were able to use the time afforded by the lockdown to better themselves. Such is the situation for bantamweight Leomana Martinez.
Specifically, Martinez was able to work on his physical conditioning. He feels that when he returns to fighting, he’ll be a much more powerful fighter than he was when he last fought in November of 2019.
“(The lockdown) gave me all the time in the world to train,” Martinez told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve been able to excel and get a lot better than I was. It’s a tough time and a lot of people are out there struggling, but I’ve been truly blessed by it, and I’m also hoping and praying well for others.
“I see myself being a lot more physically stronger. I’ve had a lot more time to focus on myself and I’ve really taken it to another level with my body this last year. I wasn’t quite as strong as I am now. Physically I feel I’m a different person and am on another level.”
While he feels like a new fighter coming into his first bout of 2020, he’ll also be faced with a new event environment, as Covid-19 precautions will have him fighting crowdless for the first time in his career.
“A fight is a fight and at the end of the day that’s what I love to do,” said Martinez. “Nothing is going to stop me from it; whether it’s one person or 100,000 people watching, I’m going to go in there and do what I do best and fight my fight.
“It’s not really going to affect me much. It’s going to be a little different, but it’ll make no difference.”
On Tuesday in Las Vegas, Martinez (6-1) will have the biggest opportunity of his career when he takes on Drako Rodriguez (6-1) in a bantamweight bout at Dana White’s Contender Series 2020: Week 6.
“I just have to go out there and fight my fight,” Martinez said. “Whether it ends up on the ground or remains standing I just have to fight my fight and do what I usually do – go in there and finish people.
“That’s exactly what I plan on doing: whether it comes out at a fast pace or a little bit of a feeling out process, I’ll be ready for either fight, and go in there ready to finish (Rodriguez).”
While Martinez is excited for the opportunity to take the next step in his career should he earn a UFC contract, he knows he’s got to perform first on Tuesday night, which is what he intends to do.
“I do visualize myself winning and what could happen afterwards,” said Martinez. “It’s been a long time coming. I’ve envisioned this throughout the years of me coming up from the local scene and eventually getting to this level. I’ve seen myself here before.
“I see this only being the beginning of my career. Once I go in there and make this statement, the world will know who Leomana is and what time it is.”