„Hockey taught me to read the game well,“ Michal „Blackbeard“ Martínek points out

ON 26. March 2018 • BY Mrkvis

Michal “Blackbeard“ Martínek is a decent man with an unprecedented level of self-reflection, which you can notice especially in his responses about the last match at the Oktagon 5 tournament. He is a former hockey player, an excellent MMA fighter, and a full-time fighter. In addition to other things, he told us what it was like to train at the SBG Gym, what bothers him the most about the jealous people but also how his injury is doing.

Welcome, Michal! Oktagon 5 is over, what are your feelings about the tournament? Which match did you like the most?

Well, hello. I think the tournament was successful. The waiting was just too long. That´s why I cannot answer, which match I liked the most, as I only saw the matches that took place after my fight. I liked, of course, the match of Miloš Petrášek there or Gábor vs Klein was super too. In fact, it is hard to say, we as fighters have a different view on the match than a spectator does. We can see more things to rate there.

How do you rate your own match then?

When talking about my own match, I would say that I didn´t have to fight with that shoulder at all. I have had serious problems with it for a month, but I overcame myself for fans and the whole organisation itself because before that, Cverna and Úškrt have already dropped out and I understand that the audience wouldn´t like it. I did it anyway. The match was very long, I don´t like this fighting style but it is important to win. I modified my strategy so as not to rip that shoulder off completely and to win.

And what about the preparation for a match, where and with whom were you preparing? 

It took place in MMA Team, of course, next in MMA Monster Gym, OFA in Bratislava and in SBG Dublin Ireland.

Many (non)fans claim, that the fight with Nataška was certainly not your “best” day. What is your opinion on that?

In my opinion, it was so unlucky because of the straddle. I rather avoided kicks and I was bored and annoyed that I couldn´t do any combinations I wanted to do. Of course, it was not totally me, when I only had one hand. At least, I will see who a real fan is and can be happy that they could see me anyway. And clearly, the match must have been like a golden grail for the nonfans and they must have enjoyed the hates a lot (laughter).

Fighters often do not enter a match because of injuries just to be sure, but you took the tapes like a real fighter and in spite of the danger of a bigger injury, you resolutely decided to fight in Octagon. Weren´t you scared to go fight?

I do not get scared, I am very strong mentally. I can get myself up and have the match under my control. André is a strategist too and we talked about what I must do and what the hand is going to let me do. There was no grenade in the right one, so I countered with it from the distance and prepared it for a back bell. Normally, I can serve a 1-5 menu, but I could only use menu 1 (series of blows) and it clearly reflected in the match.

Your fights are a bit brutal, but the fight with Nataška was mainly at the stand-up. There were some attempts, but it ended up being the inglorious kick in the balls. Did you try a different strategy against the opponent or did your carefulness have anything to do with the injured shoulder?

As I have already mentioned, I was being more careful – logically, but I do not regret anything. I am rather glad that I tried a match where there was not a lot of aggressive dominance, but more strategy. I am glad that I tried how it works to go 3×5 min (laughter). Man shapes, gets better and develops with every match and when one tries new things, he does not have to be ideal right after but if a person doesn´t try, he cannot move forward and this was the case when I was forced to be different in terms of my current physical condition and I do not regret it at all.

The final match at Štvanica is impending and we are waiting for a fight with Dittrich or Cverna. Who would appeal to you as a more appropriate rival in style and weight, and with whom would you show a nicer match? 

I have said for several times that I am interested in Cverna. There is nothing personal in it, but he has got more fights in MMA, he is more knowing, and he is at the fight matrix already.  A win against him would move me to a good position in the world ladder. I don´t know if it would be an attractive match, but I prepare differently for everyone and I don´t care who it´s going to be. Hockey taught me to read the game well (at least I hope so and so far, it has worked) (laughter). I prepare similarly but sometimes I am more offensive and aggressive, sometimes more strategic by contrast. Each match is different. Each fighter is different, and it is impossible to do the same thing everywhere.

How is your injury after the tournament?

I am going for magnetic resonance and for now, I do not train, I only rehabilitate. When I get the results, we will see how serious it is and as I cannot put my hand over my head and I have a stinging pain in my shoulder, I am awaiting some problem.

Does Oktagon give you exactly what you need to move forward as a fighter all the time?

Yes, I do enjoy Oktagon and it is fulfilling. I am happy to be a part of it and mainly I am glad that I went through all the difficulties from the second preliminary match to the main card. Since Oktagon 1-5 I have been moving from one match to the next one hierarchically higher.

Well, let´s move back to the past now. In what times (or age) did the MMA charmed you the most? Is there any story binding to it?

I have been doing it since the age of approximately 19-20 and actively (official fighting) since 2013. There is no story, I was rather angry when I gave up hockey and I needed to unwind somehow, so where else than in MMA (laughter).

 Did you do any other combat sport before MMA?

I started straight with MMA, I tried sparring rather for the stand, rather ground, judo, BJJ, and wrestling.

When talking about hockey, many people have different opinions when it comes to accident occurrence in combat and team sports. You can compare it. Is hockey more dangerous than MMA then?

Every top contact sport is dangerous. In MMA there are dangerous injuries due to levers and big head and body shocks and fractures. In hockey the injuries are dangerous because one is not careful and gets a body check, furthermore, a puck in the face is a very unpleasant issue. There are different and other futtock shroud injuries, as a man works there in a high speed and one can often break some muscle. Every sport is dangerous in something else.

Have you had your nickname since the beginning (amateur times) or does it have a new character? Who was its creator?

I didn’t have a beard in amateur times, I was a shavetail then. I don´t even know anymore how it was created. I was watching something about pirates and there was Blackbeard there and a friend of mine said: “That´s you.“ I found it kind of interesting, so that´s probably the whole story behind my nickname.

What was it like to train in SBG?

It was good, but I was already injured there. So, my training was quite limited.

How did the training there differ from the home scene training?

It was similar to what my trainer André Reinders does. We are talking about so-called safe training. The important thing is not to get hurt, take the helmets and so on. That´s why we went there, as André honours Kavanagh´s methods. In SBG, they are, of course, very high in all terms because there is a trainer for each thing. Here everybody thinks they can prepare everything alone and don´t want to cooperate with other trainers. When we look at it from different perspectives though, I understand there is a few people training. In our country, everybody is smart rather in front of a computer and a keyboard, than to go and try a training. Maybe after that, they would not be so smart anymore.

What impact, in general, did Ireland as a country have on you?

We were in an industrial part of Ireland, so there was mess and untidiness (laughter).

What is it like for a sportsman to be live in front of cameras? 

I am interested in one thing only – the one standing opposite of me. There is a great energy and about the people… It is impossible to describe, it is simply an amazing feeling.

Did the fact that you are now a popular media personality change your life somehow?

Yes, I meet my fans in the streets, but my life hasn´t changed a lot. I am not a megastar.  I am still the same ordinary Michal, who likes to play PlayStation, to go to a training and is glad that he and his family are healthy.

So far you have been an undefeated fighter. Is a loss going to represent something that will move you forward?

My modest dream is to be like Marciano, so I do not think about a loss (laughter). I am a sportsman since the childhood, of course, I can lose, but I don´t like it. It would make myself little angry instead and I would work even harder.

We have asked Salin and we are going to ask you too. What do you appreciate the most about people and on the other hand, what do you not like the most?

I am not going to evaluate this in general but from the point of view of the sport that I do. I appreciate when somebody comes and can show the honest respect that I do this sport because it is very demanding at this level. If it was easy, anyone would do it. That´s why there are 5000 people in the audience of a gala-evening and there are 26 fighters there. And this is what people should realise before they start to hate cheekily. I mind the opinions of people who have never punched anyone, have never slammed anything and are smart like a radio. Next, I mind the opinions of the clever guys who punch the bag two times a week and say that they do MMA. Mostly when I read that, I say to myself that even a plash is deeper than the opinion and the comment of that guy. But it belongs to that, they have the possibility to speak, so here they are…

What do you think about when you are entering a match? Do you perceive yourself coming there and all the people yelling or is your mind set only on the judge who starts the match?

Emptiness. Total. I have a 100% concentration, I perceive the opponent only and the rest is somewhere in the distance.

Who or what is the biggest motivation, thanks to which you can get up in the morning and go to that hard training?

It´s a routine for me. I need sports in my life because I chose it to be my road in life.

Khabib or Tony? Rose or Joanna?

Khabib and Joanna.

Finally, tell us what your plans for 2018 are? Are you planning, for example, a concentration training or are you only going to prepare before Štvanica?

First, I have to get well. One of the reasons why I fought injured is also to get well until July and to make you see what you are used to. When I am physically fit, I will start to train hard and a concentration training is going to be a part of it, of course.

The whole team wishes “Blackbeard“ to get better after the shoulder injury as fast as possible and of course, to have his winning wave at sherdog as long as possible! 

Source of photos: Facebook archive of Michal „Blackbeard“ Martínek

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