Former First Flight wrestling champ turns to MMA

By on March 27, 2023

KDH’s Carlos Martinez makes professional debut on April 22

By Joel Diaz | Outer Banks Voice

Carlos Inside The Spartyka Cage.
(Photos courtesy of Carlos Martinez.)

Former First Flight Nighthawks wrestler Carlos Martinez is taking his combat talents to the next level. The two-time state champion at 195 pounds is now fully transitioned to a career in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). And after compiling an impressive 6-0 record as an amateur. Martinez is set to make his professional debut on Saturday, April 22, at Cagezilla FC 72 in Manassas, VA.

The bout will take place in the middleweight division at 185 pounds, and his opponent, Paul Carson from Gastonia, North Carolina, is a former Appalachian State University wrestler. A match-up between two high-level wrestlers should deliver excitement, and if you haven’t seen Carlos Martinez compete…get your popcorn ready. This KDH local is straight out of an action movie.

During his run at First Flight High School, Martinez racked up 157 wins and won two state titles in 2016 and 2017 while becoming the first-ever undefeated State Champion for the Nighthawks his senior season. He was awarded NCC wrestler of the year for his outstanding efforts. Martinez also suited up on the gridiron for the Nighthawks during his freshman through junior years, playing on both sides of the ball as a defensive end and tight end. He opted out his senior season to solely pursue his wrestling career.

Head-Kick Knockout.
(Photo courtesy of Carlos Martinez.)

Combat sports always took prominence for Martinez. At 11 years old, he told his coach he wanted to be a fighter and he went 14-0 his first year wrestling for First Flight Middle School. After graduation, he wrestled one season for Delaware Valley University, taking third in the MAC as a freshman and finishing second on the team in pins.

In 2019, he began to train in MMA and decided to pursue a career as an amateur. All the years of wrestling provided a successful transition into his new sport.

MMA fighters come into the amateur ranks. In 2019, when Martinez launched into the Southeast regional scene—one of six MMA regions, which stretches from Florida to Virginia— and went an impressive 5-0. Martinez seemed on the fast track to a professional debut until multiple injuries and the COVID pandemic led to 26 months of inactivity.

During the layoff, Martinez worked on getting better. He spent several months training at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, home to some of the greatest champions in MMA and regarded as one of the best gyms in the word.

Finally, in February 2022, the improvements were on display. At Cagezilla FC 65, Martinez earned a highlight reel finish via a head-kick in Round 2 over a tough Edwin Francois. The victory capped off his impressive run as an amateur at 6-0.

All roads now lead to April 22nd for the 24-year-old Martinez and his professional debut. He remains focused and is now in training camp at Diego Bispo Academy in Virginia Beach. Led by his head coach Harvey Grasse, Martinez plans on being a better, faster, and more complete fighter. “A win here, and it’s to the top,” he said.

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