The Sao Paulo striker admits he was “a bit upset” when he left the UFC after a win, but “showed I’m a great athlete” by winning four in a row and capturing the Brave CF interim lightweight championship in 2018. Slated to face Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady for the undisputed crown at Friday’s Brave event in Bahrain, Martins leaves the UFC in the past.
“Today, with the (deal between) UFC and Reebok, I have no plans to return to the UFC,” Martins told MMA Fighting. “I have plenty of sponsors, thank God, and I get paid well every month and fight three times a year, so I have no reasons to be there. If the UFC matches the offer I would definitely fight there, but I’m happy with what I did in the UFC. I wouldn’t become champion there, I have an open mind and I know they have great athletes. I fought in many weight classes, won fights, won bonuses, and everybody knows me.”
“I’m one of the highest paid fighters in Brazil today in terms of sponsorship,” he continued. “I make in sponsorship what I was making in three UFC fights. It’s not interesting for me to fight in the UFC today and lose sponsors. I’d rather fight in Brave, which also airs on TV in Brazil, and work with my sponsors.”
Winner of four fights since leaving the UFC, Martins became a free agent again after going 2-0 under the Brave banner, but ended up signing a new five-fight deal with the Bahrain-based company. “Mineiro” says his new deal would allow him to sign with another promotion if they matched his numbers, but he’s happy with what he’s getting paid now.
“I get paid more than I did in the UFC, so I’m more than happy,” Martins said. “I don’t have this dream of returning to the UFC. I’m happy where I am. But like I said, if the offer is too good, why not?”
Al-Selwady earned a shot to the lightweight gold after winning four in a row under the promotion banner, but the Brazilian promises to win “no matter how” now that he’s “no longer that Muay Thai athlete that wanted to stop takedowns and was too scared to grapple.”
And even though he’s focused on the 155-pound belt, “Mineiro” has considered moving back to featherweight after.
“I told Brave that I want to make history, I want to become a two-division champion,” Martins said. “Depending on the offer they have for me, I will go down after this one and fight at featherweight.”
With bold plans for his career inside the Brave cage, “Mineiro” is making moves outside as well. Although he stills considers himself part of Chute Boxe, the 30-year-old fighter has his own gym in the same city.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own gym,” said Martins, leader of Capital da Luta in Sao Paulo. “My brother-in-law is a strength and conditioning coach and always trained celebrities. We started teaching (Brazilian model and TV host) Ana Hickmann, and her husband (Alexandre Correa) always wanted to have a gym as well. One gym I taught classes closed and I lost many students, so we found a new place. The day we opened a new gym, with Alexandre as our business partner, we already had 50 people in here.”
Martins has “more responsibility” in his daily routine now that he’s no longer a full-time fighter, but watching his protégés succeed in the sport makes it all worth it. Less than a year after the gym was opened, Capital da Luta already has a fighter in the UFC, with Luana Carolina Carvalho signing with the company after defeating Mabelly Lima on the Brazilian edition of Dana White’s Contender Series in August.
“I’m a businessman now, I have many athletes,” Martins said, “so it’s something different. I really enjoy doing it.”