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.


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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