What’s the cover of your book look like? Does it reflect who you are as a person?
It’s easy to make an assumption about a person by the way they look, but it’s also highly likely that the assumption is wrong. People have intrinsic properties that are more than skin deep, and regardless of what their Instagram profile shows, pictures only scratch the surface. People don’t have control over their genetics.
Brett Martin walks around at about 285 to 295 pounds, which seems pretty big for a guy who’s only six feet tall. The Michigan native used to weigh even more. He is a tremendous athlete, who has experienced great success in high school and collegiate wrestling, as well as mixed martial arts.
“I’ve had a good resume since the time I was a kid,” Martin told Combat Press. “I’ve always been an underdog. I’ve always been looked at as an outsider, because I’m a pretty chunky guy. I’ve got two titles now. I’m 25. I went to college and was an All-American wrestler. I was a state champ and three-time All-State wrestler in high school. I’ve been pretty lucky to get raised around a bunch of athletes and guys that knew how to beat the curve and be successful, so I just translated that into MMA. The thing that never goes undone is hard work.”
Martin grew up in the country and has a great deal of unwavering work ethic. He started wrestling in grade school. When he was in fifth grade, he moved to Hesperia, Mich., which has a powerhouse wrestling program. This is where he learned how to grind. He went on to attend high school there, before heading off to Muskegon Community College and eventually Eastern Michigan University.
“A couple of my buddies started to cage fight, who were high school wrestlers,” said Martin. “In college, it never worked out, but I always went and watched my friends, and [I] was really interested in it. Once I finished wrestling in college, I worked out a couple times, and my buddy posted a picture of me helping work out. A guy who fought had said something on there about wanting to fight me. I was working out at the promoter’s house, so I looked at the promoter and was like, ‘Yeah, whenever.’ I fought at the next show, and that was 2015, if I remember correctly. Everyone was like, ‘You’re doing really well. Keep doing it.’ After I went amateur, I started taking it very seriously, and now we’re here.”
Martin’s amateur career started with KnockOut Promotions in his hometown of Grand Rapids. Today, he is 7-1-1 as a pro and holds heavyweight titles in Total Warrior Combat and Lights Out Championship. He serves as one half of the main event for Legacy Fighting Alliance 70 on Friday night in Madison, Wis.
“When I was young, nobody ever told me I was strong,” Martin said. “I was just a big kid. I’ve never been a real intimidating heavyweight or, like, a promotable-looking heavyweight. Once I perform, people would actually figure out who I was. They would be like, ‘Holy shit, this guy really handles his business.’ There haven’t been any MMA fights where I was picked to be the winner based on looks.”
At LFA 70, Martin will once again come in as the underdog, but that’s what he would expect. After his second-to-last win, he was expecting to get a fight in LFA. When the promotion first came calling, he said yes, but his opponent did not. Eventually, he found out he would be part of the promotion’s heavyweight tournament. Now, he faces 6-foot-10 Brazilian Renan Ferreira in the bracket’s semifinal round.
“I know he’s a pretty agile, big guy,” said Martin. “He’s tall. [He’s] coming from Nogueira’s gym in Brazil — that’s obviously a notable gym — and he’s got a lot of people there to help pull strings and make sure he’s doing the right things. It sounds like he’s a pretty legit opponent, and that’s what I’ve been looking for my whole career.
“We got a guy who trains with us, who’s a doctor, and he’s about 6[-foot-]8, 6[-foot-]9. I’m only a 6-foot-tall heavyweight. It’s not like I’m 6[-foot-]4, 6[-foot-]5, which is your average size heavyweight. I’m used to being a lot shorter than my opponent. It’s something that we’re used to, and it’s not like they hit you on the top of your forehead. They hit you right on your chin, so my game plan has never really changed. I’m a wrestler, so I like to get right up in your face, so that way I can take my shot and land punches. I’m going to be right in his face and make this a dogfight.”
Martin trains at Triumph Training Center in Grand Rapids with a solid group of coaches and training partners. While he trains in Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu and MMA, his wrestling base has always proven to be a huge arrow to have in almost any fighter’s quiver. Combine that with an unmatched work ethic, and his look can be very deceiving. He may not be tall, and, as he admits, he might be “chunky,” but with two knockouts, two submissions, and plenty of distance fights on his record, he’s a force. It’s no surprise, considering his background.
“My parents got divorced when I was 18, and I was helping my mom keep her life together,” Martin explained. “I was living in Muskegon, and I had four or five guys living with me, and I worked full time while I was in school. Wrestling was getting to the point where it was becoming too much. When I stopped wrestling, I was like number one or number two in the nation. I was still one of the top guys, but it was a little too much. Once I started fighting, I never really had a strict coach, and that works out for me. I don’t need someone to tell me to work out. I already have that niche in my body.”
Martin comes from a family of six, with two brothers and a twin sister. The relationship between his parents has smoothed over. His family is very supportive, and his relationship with his twin sister Brooke is even better than what he shares with most of his friends.
“Obviously, we had our problems when we were younger, but when we were in high school, we were best friends,” Martin said. “She’s not a girly girl by no means. She threw shot [put] and discus and javelin in college, and she wrestled. She was like one of my homeboys. I would go to war with my sister before I’d go to war with a lot of my friends, because I know what her backbone is.”
Martin is an interesting individual. He has an amazing passion for working hard. It doesn’t matter how much he weighs or how tall he is, as he has proven time and time again. On Friday night, he plans to shine in the spotlight, live on AXS TV. The winner of the contest will go on to fight Daniel James in the final of the heavyweight tournament.
“The biggest reason to watch me is [because] you can’t judge a book by its cover,” said Martin. “I show a lot of people that it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, it’s all about that grind. If you put your heart and soul into it, you can do anything you want. I like showing the doubters what’s possible.”