Since its doors opened over a decade ago Millennia MMA has been an academy that has produced many world class athletes that have achieved success in the grappling and mma circuit.In this feature we interview new Millennia prodigy Stephen Martinez as he shares with us how his passion and drive for the sport as lead him to many great achievements and memorable experience.
How did you become interested in martial arts ?
Stephen: I had no interest in it at all, I had no clue what BJJ was and had never even seen an MMA fight. But I wrestled my senior year in High School and loved it. Then I was introduced to BJJ and MMA when I was 19. A good friend of mine and workout partner, was a blue belt and had trained in the late 90’s. So one day I asked him to show me a few moves, and I haven’t stopped since.
Being that Millennia MMA has produced so great fighters , as an active competitor is there any pressure representing your school ?
Stephen: I have been with Millennia since I started. Most of my really close friends are my training partners and coaches. And for me that will always add a little extra pressure. Not to win necessarily, I mean no one wants to lose. But I just want to put 100% of my effort into my matches or fights, because that is what my friends are giving to me in practice every day, to help me improve so I can perform at my best. And the least I can do is try my best out there on the mat or in the ring, for them. Win or lose.
Not to long ago you got promoted to brown belt..how does it feel to reach such a high rank in a short period of time ?
Stephen: I was promoted to brown belt just over a year ago, three years into my training. Being promoted fast was never on my mind. I didn't go into the gym everyday focused on a goal of getting a black belt as fast as possible. I just love training and my hard work and dedication to this sport, I think has started to show. But it is just an honor to be able to compete at a high level in such a short period of time.
What is your motivation for competing and training as much as you do ?
Stephen: My motivation for training is simple; I just love it. If I didn’t love it or find it fun, I would not do it. I love the fact that at no point in my training am I any ware close to knowing everything. I am consistently learning new techniques, new ideas. And that has had a profound effect on my drive to train and learn everyday. As far as competing as much as I do. It stems just from my competitive spirit. I have always been very competitive. Whether it is chess, video games, Scrabble, Jenga, Bjj, or fighting. I just want to compete and try my best.
Obviously you have had many great experience so far in grappling from a competition standpoint, what has been your favorite experience so far and why ?
Stephen: I got my butt kicked, but definitely going against Josh Barnett in an absolute final was probably a match that was the most fun for me. I want a rematch! Just kidding.
Besides training on the mat do you do anything outside of mat training to keep yourself in shape ?
Stephen: I workout three times a week on top of my BJJ and MMA training. Usually two times a week consisting of Olympic lifting: cleans, snatches, dead lifts, squats. And once more, usually a workout more cardiovascular and muscle endurance oriented.
You also have done some MMA fights, how has that experience been like for you as oppose to your bjj experience ?
Stephen: I have only had 4 MMA fights, so in no way to I consider myself an MMA fighter. But I love it the same as BJJ coming from a competitive perspective. I get the same rush and satisfaction from both, win or loose. But BJJ was my first love. So I will always have a soft spot for competing and training BJJ.
Any plans on going into MMA full time?
Stephen: Yes, my goal is to have four fights in 2011. I recently won a MMA fight on January 2nd this year at Long Beach Fight Night. But in the mean time, I want to try to have at least 2 a year while I continue to pursue and further my BJJ career.
You also happen to be an instructor at the gym. As an instructor how do you help students with their progression ?
Stephen: Being an instructor is a great honor and has helped my progression greatly! And as far as my classes, I stay with a certain series for a few weeks, before moving on to the next. During my class I make sure to take the time to answer my students questions, maybe about the move how we got there and why. And most importantly I try to keep it fun and mix things up for them.
During your progression did you experience any doubt?
Stephen: Never. Mostly do to my parents 100% support in my endeavors. I owe my success to their love and support.
What has been the greatest lesson you have learned in your journey so far?
Finally do you have any future goals for yourself?
Stephen: My top priority is to be the best I can be by putting 100% of my effort and dedication into this for the time being. But I am not just doing it because I love it. I want to be considered one of the best Grapplers in the world and down the road, be one of the top welterweights in the world.
Before we wrap up do you have any shout out you would like to give ?
Stephen: Everyone at Millennia MMA ,all my other training partners. and of course my friends and family for their support.
Well that wraps things up. Thanks a lot for the interview and best wishes in the future.
Stephen: Thank you Monta, for reaching out to me!