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December 17, 2013

Tifton fighter finding success in MMA

TIFTON — Most individuals have hobbies. Some collect things, some like music and movies. Some play video games, some play sports. Some have talents for tossing others around like rag dolls. Albert Martinez falls into that category.

Martinez participates in competitive mixed martial arts. He has done so well lately that he recently brought home the Combat Night championship belt he won in the 135-pound division at an event in Tallahassee, Fla.

Looking at the slight-built Martinez, it comes as a shock when he reveals his initial motivation to compete.

"I was starting to turn into a tubby-tubby," he said. "I started jujitsu and just kept going."

That was about four years ago. He has been competing for three.

At first, he tried to mix in boxing, but realized jujitsu was the safer choice. "I'm sticking to what works," he laughed. He said relies he on quickness, not surprising as his nickname is Speedy.

His earliest days were spent at SWAT MMA in Orlando, then he moved to Thomasville. Thomasville not only brought him to Georgia, but it is also where he found his manager, Kamrin Naville. "He took me under his wing," he said.

Naville organizes his schedule and helps him with training, both physically and nutritionally. "I leave most of the decisions to him. He's teaching me all the ropes," said Martinez.

Training for MMA competition requires considerable dedication. He works out both at home and tries to make at least two trips per week to Valdosta. When at home, he trains 4-5 hours per day, including an hour or two of conditioning, then work on his boxing skills. At Valdosta, he does what he labels ground work, which  includes wrestling training.

Recent travels have taken him all over the place. Besides his championship win in Tallahassee, he has  been to Atlanta for an Alliance camp ("it was cool") and Kissimmee, Fla. That is in addition to working with Team Reality in Moultrie and the local Team Resolution.

Tifton is his home these days. He is originally from Miami, but he said his parents moved here and he followed. "I fell in love with it," he said. "It's a better place to raise a family." Martinez works at Ranchero's. He said they have been generous in allowing him time off to train and fight.

For the most part, he has been able to avoid the injury bug. Martinez does admit to an ankle injury and a sprained thumb. The latter was caused, he said, when delivering blows to a particularly hard-headed opponent.

Martinez is content to stay in the 135-pound division. The next fight on his schedule is in March and takes place in Tampa, Fla.

While fitness was his original target, he has found he has a wealth of reasons to continue his battles. Special needs awareness is high on that list. Though he himself has ADHD, he said his focus was mostly on his nieces and nephews who have been diagnosed with autism.

The feeling is mutual. His sister, Mandi Larkin, said "we try to support him as much as possible."

"He's a good kid," said Naville. "He's going places and I want to make sure he does."

Is the Ultimate Fighting Championship his ultimate goal?

Martinez said he does not want to look too far down that road. Right now, he's focusing on the next battle and defending his Combat Night belt. "I'm going to keep on chasing the dream."

 

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  • public safety awards.tif

    Pictured are the honorees of Thursday night's annual Public Safety Officer Appreciation and Awards Banquet by the Tifton Elks Lodge. Shown, from left, are Louise Spradley, who organized the banquet, Eddie Brown with the Tift County Emergency Medical Services, Sgt. Debbie Pyles with the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College Police Department, Sgt. Bart Walker with the Omega Police Department, Officer of the Year honoree Thomas Catanzarita with the Tift County Sheriff's Office Jail Division, Deputy Jonathan Toledo with the TCSO, Brandi Conway with the Tifton-Tift County Animal Shelter, Georgia State Patrol Trooper Ben Taylor, Officer Brian Shockley with the Tifton Police Department and volunteer Firefighter Brian Fincher with the Chula Fire Department.

    LEOs and first responders honored at banquet

    A room full of local law enforcement and first responders were honored Thursday night by the Tifton Elks Lodge at their annual Public Safety Officer Appreciation and Awards Banquet for their service in the community.
    Prior to the awards being given out, Louise Spradley, who organized the banquet, welcomed everyone, and the invocation and pledge were led by the Tift County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard.

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