If you haven't heard of Radley Martinez, you aren't alone. He's a lightweight fighter training with Victory MMA in Utah. His most high profile opponent is Brian Cobb, a fighter with one fight in the UFC (a loss) who makes a living on the regional circuit of MMA. While Radley has amassed a 9-2 record, Cobb submitted Radley in the second round of their fight in May of this year.
Notwithstanding the loss to Cobb, Radley's got an incredible story to tell. ESPN's 'Outside The Lines' caught wind of it and decided to put it to film and tell larger audiences. I won't divulge any details, so I encourage you to watch this gripping piece in full above.
There is a cynical impulse within the MMA community to view MMA-related events where there's contact with the mainstream as either beneficial to or damaging for the larger sport. And playing into that, this is clearly beneficial. Even if the piece leans on the sport as release for frustration and underscores its violence, it also clearly portrays Martinez as a human being. A fragile if impossibly resolute human being, both a figure of sympathy and inspiration. There's also the presentation of the two Martinez's: caregiver at home, pain inflicter in sport.
Refracting Martinez's predicament through the cold lens of how it benefits the larger sport of which he isn't even a full member is inappropriate if too tempting to pass up. It would be incredibly self-serving of MMA's community to usurp Martinez's situation especially given his tenuous relationship with the sport. Still, as special as Martinez may be, the paradigm of 'MMA fighter struggling with real life's responsibilities before hitting it big' is an all too familiar profile. One hopes Martinez is able to transition to the next stage in his career while meeting the obligations at home. If there is anyone who deserves to have fortune smile upon him, it's Martinez.