Bellator Fighting Championships today announced the signing of fast-rising Rad Martinez, adding to its growing list of impressive competitors. A former NCAA Division I All American wrestler, Martinez was recently featured on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” where his incredibly moving story of being the primary caretaker for his seriously injured father was told.
“Rad not only has an incredibly uplifting, powerful story, but he’s also a fierce competitor who will be a great addition to the Bellator family,” said Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney. “We’re proud to have Rad under the Bellator banner, and expect big things from him inside the Bellator cage.”
At the age of 12, Rad’s father Richard was involved in a devastating car accident that left him with traumatic brain damage. Having already lost his mother years earlier, Rad and his brother Levi began living with their grandparents, who became primary caregivers to Richard. Needing an escape to take his mind off of what was happening at home, Rad began his wrestling career at the age of 14 and eventually progressed to become a Division I All-American at Clarion University, where he wrestled alongside good friend and current UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar. It was Edgar who turned Martinez onto MMA, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“Frankie Edgar is definitely the one that talked me into giving MMA a shot,” Martinez said. “Every day he was always telling me how good I would be at MMA and how much I would love it, and eventually he just ended up talking me into it.
“When I first decided I wanted to pursue a career in MMA, there were several different gyms in my area that only offered night classes, and that wasn’t going to work with my obligations to my dad. However, The Pit Elevated ended up putting a class together in the afternoon just for me. They really bent over backwards to help me out down there, and if they hadn’t done that, I probably wouldn’t be competing today.”
Even with the support from his fight team, Rad’s daily schedule is grueling. Taking care of his father is a full time job that includes hours of daily physical therapy, which is usually administered by Rad himself. With an enormous responsibility always waiting at home for Martinez, stepping into the cage has become a release for the fighter.
“When I step in that cage, and even when I get to go to practice, that’s when the shackles come off,” said Martinez. “That’s when I’m free to be me – to think about me and what I have to do right now.”
Currently holding a 9-2 professional record that includes an impressive TKO victory over UFC veteran Joe Brammer, Rad is eager to join an already stacked featherweight division with Patricio Pitbull, Pat Curran, Ronnie Mann, Marlon Sandro and current Bellator Featherweight World Champion Joe Warren.
“I’ve always had confidence in my ability and felt like I could compete with anybody in the world, but when you’re talking about guys like Joe Warren, Patricio Pitbull and Marlon Sandro in the Bellator featherweight division, you’re talking about three of the absolute best featherweights in the world,” said Martinez. “I’m just really looking forward to being able to test myself against that elite level of competition.”
Once again, here is the profile on Martinez from Sunday’s installment of ESPN Outside The Lines: