A veteran of the game who has competed against the likes of Yoel Romero, Thiago Santos, Paulo Filho and Linton Vassell, Markes agreed to facing Sowma in a heavyweight bout despite their relationship as occasional training partners over at American Top Team in Florida.
“He’s the most humble guy there is at ATT,” Markes said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “Everybody loves this guy. He helps everybody. He truly is a nice guy, but I couldn’t turn down the fight. I’m coming off a loss, so it’s a complicated situation. But I hope it doesn’t change anything because I hope to train at ATT in the future. There’s nothing we can do. We’re professionals.”
Markes remembers sparring “six or eight times” with Sowma in the past, as well as countless grappling and wrestling sessions in Florida, but sharing the cage for a professional fight will feel unique.
“It sucks,” Markes said. “He’s a sensational guy, a super polite kid. Everybody likes this guy. He’s super nice, but, unfortunately, like I said, when the cage closes, you have to forget that. Imagine getting there, the other guy is beneath you, you have the chance to elbow the face of the guy. … Brother, it’s different. It’s not just someone else there.
“But we have to go there and forget it for a moment and do our job. He has to do this job and I have to do mine. I’m going after food for my kids and he will defend his.”
The UFC veteran, who now splits his time as MMA fighter and manager, partnering with Ali Abdelaziz as president of Dominance MMA Brazil, won’t take too much into consideration the training sessions between the two as he enters the cage at Bellator 262.
“It won’t only serve for me but also for him, right?” Markes said. “He’s always been a hard training [partner], even though he doesn’t have many professional fights and a few amateur fights. But he’s training at the highest level with high-level fighters, so he has evolved a lot in a short period of time. It was always good training for both of us, but it’s different in there. Fighting is a whole different game.”