HD MMA 6 fight week is here. We took a moment to chat with Ryan “Ninja Mode” Hayes and Humberto Martinez, who will be fighting each other in the Co-Main event. Both fighters last fought back in February of this year at HD MMA 4 in exciting bouts that had opposite results. Hayes was a part of the Fight of the Night bout against Humberto’s teammate Javi Obregon Jr., who narrowly edged “Ninja Mode” via split decision in a fight that had crowd on their feet nearly the entire time. Martinez won his bout by DQ, an exciting, bloody fight with Phillip Morehead which was stopped due to a third, illegal groin strike landed by Morehead on Martinez. Both Hayes and Martinez left the cage that night with a feeling of unfinished business. Hayes is hungry for redemption, coming off a fight in which he felt flat and Martinez, who didn’t want his fight to be stopped in the fashion that it was, is also hungry to finish a fight on his own terms.
We asked Hayes how he feels leading up to this fight, “I feel great, I haven’t fought in a while (since the last card) because I felt like I lost my passion for fighting and really needed to refocus. I wanted to find that fire that got me into the sport and I feel like it’s back now, and stronger than ever!” We also wanted to know where Ninja Mode is most comfortable at during a fight considering the very diverse set of skills he displayed in his last bout. “I would definitely say the ground game is where I’m comfortable, but I’m constantly improving and people will be surprised how far I have come in my whole game”.
As with most professional fighters on the local circuit, the demand for a training and work schedule is grueling. Fighters dedicate their time to pursuing their dream in MMA while often holding full time jobs. We wanted to see what Ryan did outside of fighting. “Outside of fighting, I am a personal trainer and I’m able to dictate my own schedule, so training is a huge priority. I stay hooked up with constantly training but it’s very fun and I know that in order to win, I have to sacrifice the time”. As he reflects, he clearly understands that an opportunity to be involved in training as a part of his regular job is another great asset to his arduous physical requirements, something other fighters may not have.
Hayes has fought all over the world, from the King of the Cage circuit to the esteemed Pancrase organization in Japan; he has a lot of experience. We were intrigued how the opportunity to fight in Tokyo came up. “I landed on that card because my gym in Tuttle, Apex MMA, is affiliated with Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu and he offered one of my teammates at the time an opportunity to fight on the card. He was unable to take the fight and I couldn’t pass up that type of step in my career. It was an amazing trip and one of my greatest memories. The fans were the best and the culture was great!”
As Hayes prepares for his fight against an opponent who has shown the tenacity for hard-nosed fights, he truly feels ready and capable of putting on his best performance once again, something that he believes was lacking from his past few fights.
In the opposite corner from Ryan Hayes, Humberto Martinez also feels ready. A fighter who has never avoided tough fights, Martinez believes that he may be in the best shape of his entire career and is also prepared to make a big statement. We asked how his training is going and what methods he prefers in fight preparation. “I take a little bit of everything, from triathlon training like the Diaz brothers, to more explosive football/Olympic lifting movements like a GSP. I do work a lot of football agility in my camps. CrossFit style movements have helped me a lot for this camp. Everyone is different and for now, mixing up the CrossFit movements along with football agility/explosive movements, I feel works for me.”
During his last fight at HD MMA 4, it was apparent that Martinez took a lot of damaging leg kicks and we wanted to get his take on the performance. “The damage to the leg was a combination with a lot of other surprises from my opponent. Mainly, it was that he was a southpaw. I took a lot of unnecessary damage because I wasn’t prepared to fight a southpaw. It took me a couple of months to completely recover from that fight but I take it as a learning experience”.
Humbeto is now fully recovered and believes that he is more than ready for a step up in competition, such as the type he is getting by accepting a fight with Ryan Hayes. One of the most interesting things about Humberto is the caliber of his training partners. We asked him to give us a little insight about what training with high level prospects like Victor Reyna and Justin Patterson in Texas is like. “Justin and Victor are like big brothers to me. I see how hard they work day in and day out which forces me to elevate my game. I want to fight for titles and sign big contracts and I know what I have to do to get there because I see what it takes every time I’m in the gym. Our camp philosophy is simple. We are a family where everyone lifts each other up. We all want to be great and when you have a gym full of hardworking people, it’s only a matter of time before everyone knowns who we are.”
As both of these men prepare to square off against each other, it is evident that they both seek the same goal. Each man pursues that next level and the steps that follow which can thrust them into the spotlight. While one is coming off a win and one is coming off a loss, the feeling seems to be mutual. It’s about redemption, self-worth, and the chance to prove that one is superior to the other as they climb their way up the rankings at 145 pounds. Looking at the background and history of how both men fight, it is apparent that this fight could be a dandy of a clash that challenges for Fight of the Night honors.