Utah MMA fighter battles for hometown crowd

Posted at 9:34 PM, Feb 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-19 01:04:48-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah - West Jordan resident and mixed martial arts competitor Rad Martinez fights in front of his hometown fans this week in what he calls the fight of his life. But no matter what happens in the fight on Thursday, Martinez says that he's already a big winner in his personal life.

Martinez is fighting this week at a huge MMA event at West Valley City's Maverik Center for a winner-take-all $100,000 purse. He and his Russian opponent are the main event in the series of fights that can seen by MMA fans around the country.

Backed by Bellator Promotions, Martinez is undefeated in the last year, so he has a lot riding on this fight.

"It's fun, exciting, nerve wracking. You don't want to think about 5 and 0, I got this streak going," Martinez said.

Martinez continues to take care of his ailing father whenever he's in town. Richard Martinez has been speechless and confined to a wheelchair since a car accident more than two decades ago.

Martinez' devotion to his dad, made public by his fighting success, has been the subject of several national stories.

Patricia Kirkland, a sports fan in upstate New York, was so moved by the story that she decided to send Martinez a Facebook message, telling him how impressed she was.

Martinez replied, and the message sparked an online friendship that led to in-person visits and eventually a relationship. Kirkland moved to Utah last year and the couple is now engaged to be married.

"With Trish and with fighting and with family, it's all working and coming together.
And it's just a lot of fun and a lot of happiness which, a year ago, I didn't know if all this was possible but we're making it happen and it's a fun ride," Martinez said.

Rad's brother Levi, who helped convince him to become an MMA fighter, will be in his corner at the Maverik Center in West Valley City this Thursday.

For more information, visit Bellator MMA.