Roque Martinez (12-3-2) is preparing for the biggest fight of his career. On September 30th, he fights one of the final bosses of the MMA heavyweight division, Mirko Cro Cop (36-11-2, 1NC).
Cro Cop needs no introduction. The Croatian heavyweight has a long list of impressive finishes over the likes of Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva, and most recently Tsuyoshi Kosaka.
Martinez is a heavy-handed fighter from Guam, who is also the DEEP Megaton Champion. He has been on an eight-fight win streak with his two RIZIN fights (against K-1 kickboxing legend Jerome Le Banner and “Samurai Mark Hunt” Kiyoshi Kuwabara) ending in first round finishes. Martinez talked about his upcoming fight against Cro Cop, the status of his DEEP Megaton title, and his pick in the main event kickboxing match between Tenshin Nasukawa vs Kyoji Horiguchi.
Roque Martinez talks Cro Cop Fight at RIZIN 13
AB: What were your thoughts when you were told you would be fighting Cro Cop?
RM: Oh man, of course I was definitely excited. I mean another opportunity to fight another legend, like I said just excited.
AB: Obviously you are very familiar with Cro Cop. I’m curious to know right now is your training different for this type of fighter that Cro Cop is?
RM: I would say of course now I’m training, when I do my rounds, of course I’m more aware of his weapons, like his kicks, his straight left punch and stuff like that. So I’m having my partners do that a bit more often than they normally would so I can get used to seeing it. Other than that, my training pretty much is the same. I have the same schedule.
AB: Would you say this is the most important fight in your career?
RM: Oh yeah by far.
AB: Is that at all a motivation for you for how important this fight is?
RM: Yes, definitely a huge motivation. If I win this fight and put on a really good show and performance a lot of doors will open. I mean it can cement myself as a legit top heavyweight fighter in the world. It’s definitely motivating that’s for sure.
AB: I looked at both your records and Cro Cop is on an eight-fight win streak and if we take away your majority decision draw on yours, you also have an eight-fight win streak. How do you look to continue that winning streak on your end? How do you see this fight going? How do you want it to go?
RM: I want to keep that winning streak. I haven’t lost in a while. That last loss hurt pretty bad. I don’t want to lose again. As far as the way I see the fight going, I’m just going to find any way I possibly can to get the win and also look for the finish. I want to be a finisher as a well. Win and finish is my ultimate goal.
The Game Plan
AB: Now the last fight you had with Samurai Mark Hunt, that fight was standing the entire time. Do you want to take this fight to the ground? Would you want to try to stand with Cro Cop?
RM: If the fight starts standing up, from there I can’t say, I don’t know whether it’s going to go the ground right away or not. I mean I might see something in the stand up where I feel comfortable and we can stay standing. It’s kind of hard to play until the fight actually happens. That’s why I train the way I do. I’ll be ready for whatever I see and I can capitalize on whatever comes my way. It’s kind of hard to say right now. The fight could be all stand up for all I know. It’s not anything I’m going to shy away from. If I feel successful on the stand up, I’ll keep it standing. Cro Cop’s not bad on the ground either. Everyone is like “just take him down.” He’s not too bad on the ground. It’s not like, just take him down and finish, it’s easier said than done. He’s got a good ground game. We’ll see when the fight comes.
AB: I’m curious to know about your weight going into this fight. Are you planning to cut any weight, are you going into the fight heavy, or just the same weight to help with the fight?
RM: Actually, interestingly his side asked for a limit of 110 kilos (242 lbs) which is 10 kilos under the normal heavyweight limit. I have to come in under that. My last fight I was about at that weight so I’m not sure what they were thinking. Maybe they thought I was a bigger guy and thought I would have to cut weight and whatnot. I’m pretty much on weight for what they asked for. It kind of surprised me that he wanted a 110 kilo weight. I don’t think he’s ever asked for a weight limit before.
Who is Next?
AB: If you do beat Cro Cop, is there anybody else who you would like to fight?
RM: Yeah if I beat him I’d want to fight another big name. Keep it going. See how good I really am. Test myself. But at the same time I’m not too picky with my opponents. I just like to fight as well, see what happens and what other offers come up.
AB: If you do beat Cro Cop, along with JLB, you might have to go by the name the “K-1 Killer.”
RM: (laughs) Everybody keeps talking to me about that. That’d be interesting.
AB: Obviously the next opponent after those two would have to be Bob Sapp.
RM: Oh yeah that’s right. And he’s on the card too.
AB: Regarding your training, what are you doing training wise right now? Are you going back and looking at tapes of Cro Cop through his fight history or how you are approaching this fight any differently than your other fights if you are?
RM: I’ve had a lot of my training partners throw the way he does. I mean of course it’s going to be hard to find someone who throws like him. I just have them do what he would normally do just so I can see it so I constantly seeing the kicks and the straight punches. Other than that, I just train hard. To me, that’s the number one thing. I’m just training as hard as I can. My conditioning is my number one priority. That’s what’s going to carry me through this fight. I want to make him tired as well. I see he got bigger. He’s carrying more muscle. I think he’s going to tire out a little bit faster. And interestingly he’s the one who requested the 10-minute round. I guess he’s thinking I’m going to gas out. But I think he’ll be surprised when I get into the later part of the round. I’m just really banking on the conditioning part of it.
AB: Jiri Prochazka has said that he wants to fight Cro Cop. If you defeat Cro Cop, would the possibility of fighting Jiri Prochazka be something that you would be interested in since he was going in that direction?
RM: When I kind of look at it, I know Cro Cop and Jiri… I think they’re setting them up to fight for the New Year’s Eve card. Maybe they’re thinking I’m a feeder fight and Jiri’s opponent is a feeder fight so they can set up a perfect New Year’s Eve match everyone wants to see. But I don’t mind spoiling the party. If I win and Jiri wins, and they want to see that fight, let’s do that one too, then let’s give the fans what they want. But I plan on spoiling that party if that’s what they were planning.
AB: I also wanted to ask about the DEEP Megaton Championship. What’s the status of that? It hasn’t been contended in over a year.
RM: I think they’re working on getting a contender. I might be on their next event. I think they have a couple of heavyweights that might contend for the title. If the schedule is not conflicting with RIZIN, I’ll get into that fight too. I want to defend my title. I don’t want to babysit it either. I’m willing to defend it if the timing works out.
AB: Since it is the main fight of the card, do you have a pick in the highly anticipated Tenshin Nasukawa vs Kyoji Horiguchi kickboxing match?
RM: Oh man you know I’m a huge Tenshin fan. The kid is fun to watch. Just everything about him; his composure, his entrance, you know the way he just comes out for a 19-year-old… man it’s pretty impressive and I’m a big fan. But then the other half of me wants Horiguchi to win because he represents us on the MMA side, so it would be pretty cool to have him win a kickboxing match from the MMA side. But I have to probably go with Tenshin in a kickboxing match.