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Caribbean Dream

DANGEROUS: Martell in action

THE HARSH British winter will soon be a distant memory for promising mixed martial artist Iain Martell as his next contest will be in the exotic Dominican Republic on November 6.

Arguably the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in Europe, Ultimate Challenge MMA’s next show at the Hard Rock Casino in Punta Cana is the organisation’s first venture to the Caribbean and Martell was thrilled to be selected.

Describing his joy when finding out about his Caribbean contest, the 21-year-old told the Voice of Sport:

“I started jumping up and down in my underpants, running around the house screaming! I was absolutely ecstatic for about five minutes and then I realised the hard work that I’ve got to put in.”

Even at this time of the year the temperature in Dominican Republic can reach up to 30 degrees celsius and Martell, who fights Neil Bittong, acknowledges that adapting to the heat and altitude will be a difficult task.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the sauna whenever I can just to sweat a lot and put myself in the heat but there’s not a lot you can do,” said the south Londoner, who is undefeated in three contests.

“None of us in the UK are in the positions where we can train at altitude. I do a few little tricks in the gym where we train but apart from that it’s quite limited as to what you can do.”

VENUE: The Hard Rock Casino is set to host the event

The Caribbean is not known as an MMA crazed region but Martell plans to covert the Dominican crowd into MMA fans.

“Whatever happens it’s going to be a crazy journey but hopefully there will be a decent buzz with the crowd. I’m going to try and learn some Spanish so I can impress them! It’s something new for me and I think it’s something new for them as well so hopefully I can put something positive across to them and they come away happy as well.”

A former British kickboxing junior champion, Martell’s stock rose after appearing on ITV dating show Take Me Out last year but, to his initial surprise, he was not ridiculed by his peers.

“I thought I’d get that [derision] a lot but to be honest, not bigging myself up, after my first couple of fights I think people realised I can have scrap,” explained Martell.

“They realise I am dangerous and they except it. I haven’t really got abuse, everyone’s been so nice to me and I did expect a lot of s**t. Everyone knows I was on a dating show but I don’t get abuse for it because I feel I’m getting more respected for my talents as a fighter which is what I’ve always wanted.

Martell continued: “Take Me Out was amazing. It’s kind of boosted my profile. I’ve been really lucky. It’s given me opportunities and kind of given me a platform. I’ve been given a gift and now I have the opportunity to show my talent so I’m going take it with both hands.”

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