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Still Dangerous: Terry Martin Returns at XFO 59

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Terry Martin XFO 59
by Matt Lo Cascio

Fighters fight. It’s a simple concept. But whenever a fighter makes a comeback, fans deluge internet forums with comments and writers pen lengthy columns. Both over-analyze why fighters keep coming back to the cage after retiring. It’s always been a fake mystery to me. Fighters fight. Jens Pulver kept fighting after losing six in a row. Jeff Curran just unretired to fight at age 39. Drew McFedries and Rory Markham came back after years of dormancy. You just saw Brock Lesnar come back. You will see GSP fight again. Fighters retire, then unretire, then do it all over again. Why? Fighters fight. Terry Martin is a fighter. Friday night he steps into the cage for the first time in four years, and he promises to put on a show. He’ll fight Bobby Galvan at the UIC Forum in the main event at XFO 59.

Terry Martin Quote - Chicago's MMA

The question isn’t why Martin is coming back. The question is why did he ever leave the fight game?

Martin enjoyed a four-fight winning streak from 2006-2007 that spanned three different promotions. He wrecked Keith Berry at WEC 24, dropped Jason Guida at XFO 13, then put together back-to-back KO wins in the UFC against Jorge Rivera and Ivan Salaverry. Four straight wins, four straight knockouts. Martin was ready to take it all to the next level, but then he had a rematch with a fierce opponent: The Law.

Martin was arrested for the first time back in 2005, shortly after making his UFC debut. He was pulled over for a traffic violation, but the officers who stopped him used racial epithets to ridicule him, and criticized him for being a fighter. Martin went to file a complaint the next day,  and that’s when the story took a bad turn. From MMAJunkie:

“The following day, Martin alleges that he went to the police station to file a complaint, and while on his way into the building, the officers who pulled him over the day before stopped and arrested him. Additionally, he alleges they refused his request for a lawyer.

Martin was ultimately charged with fleeing and eluding when the officers alleged Martin returned to his car after the confrontation, prompting a one-mile car chase. However, another officer refuted those claims, and Martin was eventually found not guilty of the charges.”

Martin sued the city and settled out of court. But the law wasn’t done with him just yet.

“I got arrested right before the Ivan Salaverry fight by some cops who followed the UFC,” Martin told Chicago’s MMA. “That’s when my radial nerves were damaged. Racist cops arrested me for not having my drivers license and insurance, but I did have it. While I was handcuffed they laughed and bragged about me never fighting again. The cop who arrested me knew me when I was younger. He handcuffed me tightly for hours which caused nerve damage in my hands. I didn’t have the same punching power.”

Not only did Martin know the officer, but he sparred with him prior to the arrest. “I hurt him. Afterward, I got arrested. He knows me! He was a wanna-be fighter.”

Martin says he sued and won again, but there was little solace in that after realizing his exceptional power had been severely reduced. His dream to win a UFC title was dying.

“I began losing fight after fight. I walked away never to return to fighting.”

After beating Salaverry he lost his next two fights. He was knocked out by Chris Leben, then dropped a decision to Marvin Eastman. The UFC cut him. He came back to Chicago and fought in the first Adrenaline MMA, winning in the co-main event against former PRIDE and UFC fighter Daiju Takase. But then the losses started to pile up. He was knocked out by Matt Horwich in Poland near the end of 2012, and that was the last time he fought.

Martin went on to dominate a different opponent: education. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as a doctoral in the field of clinical psychology. But the desire to compete in the cage never left him. After all, fighters fight.

Terry Martin vs. Trevor Garrett

Martin knocked out Trevor Garrett at KOTC in 2006. (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

“About four years later I hit the heavy bag jokingly and it made a thudding sound.” Martin was shocked. Was it a fluke? He hit the bag again. Same loud thud. Tears begin to roll down his face. He hit it again and again, throwing punches until he was exhausted. “I was excited to hear that thud again. I began to thank God. After that, I sparred with a professional boxer. I dropped him. I was surprised to have all my punching power again. So I started training. Then I wanted to fight again.”

Which brings us back to the present. Martin will fight former Combat USA – Illinois champion Bobby Galvan at XFO 59. Martin says this isn’t a one-off fight. He’s back.

“This is a comeback. I want to fight again. It’s in my blood. My grandfather was a professional boxer. I would like to get another fight after Dec. 2. Let the top-five guys in the world know I am back. And I want a title — UFC or Bellator.”

Martin says we’ll see a more versatile fighter, but one thing hasn’t changed. He’s going into that cage to wreck. “I promise you I’ll break this guy’s face.”

I told Martin his story sounds like a script from a movie. “A damn good movie, too.” He’ll be adding to that script Friday night at the UIC Forum in the main event of XFO 59.

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About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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