Anthony Rocco Martin thrilled to fight Demian Maia, but only to a certain extent

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Anthony Rocco Martin wanted a big fight, one which could prove to the world he belongs near the top of the UFC welterweight division.

And he’s thrilled that he’s gotten the opportunity at Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 3: A main-card bout with the venerable Demian Maia.

But he still can’t quite believe the UFC granted him his wish.

“It feels awesome, man,” Maia told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s open workouts. “This is exactly what I wanted, I asked for it. I got a lot tougher opponent than I really thought the UFC would give me I didn’t think they’d give me someone ranked so high, a legend of the sport, but I’m really happy to bring that back home.”

Martin brings a four-fight win streak, and seven of his past eight, into the fight. But none of his previous opponents have the resume of the well-respected Maia, who is former title challenger at both welterweight and middleweight.

“For sure, he’s definitely a world-class fighter,” Martin said. “He’s the gatekeeper to the title, man. He’s fought for the welterweight title, he’s fought the interim champ and the new champ. So he’s definitely the gatekeeper for the title. I plan on going in there and getting it.”

It’s clear Martin holds Maia in high regard, but the American Top Team competitor doesn’t believe that’s going to get in the way of going in and doing what he has to do.

“He’s definitely a nice guy, but once you sign on that bottom line, I want to hurt you,” Martin said. “Because I promise you there is nothing in the world I want to do more than winning that fight. So no matter who it is sanding in front of me, I plan on going in there and hurting you, doing whatever I can to win the fight, you know, afterwards we can shake hands. But I’m not here happy to be fighting Demian Maia. I’m here to beat Demian Maia.”

For more from Martin, click on the video above.

UFC on ESPN 3 takes place Saturday at Target Center in Minneapolis. The card airs on ESPN.

For more on UFC on ESPN 3, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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