Community Member Finds Success in the Ring as Top Contender

Currently Ranked No. 1 in the Arizona Amateur Heavyweight Division

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


Coming off of a March victory, Deran Martinez, an amateur mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter from District 5 in the Gila River Indian Community, is currently ranked No. 1 in the Arizona amateur heavyweight division. 

Martinez, who began wrestling in high school, has parlayed his love of MMA into success early in his career.


When he trains and steps into the ring, it’s always with his community in mind. As he puts it, “I started fighting to help give back to my district and family.” 


Martinez began training in 2016 and entered his first fight the following year. Martinez now claims the top spot in the regional rankings out of 14 active Arizona Amateur Heavyweights, as ranked by He also ranks No. 22 among U.S. Southwest Amateur Heavyweights. 


Martinez defeated Mashonte Mailboy in a unanimous decision on March 13 at the Glendale Civic Center to improve his overall record. He says he has achieved an important goal with his current ranking, but he is still focused on his future in combat sports. 


“The next step is definitely going to be a bigger step,” said Martinez who discussed the possibility of fighting for a title or taking on the sport professionally, which would also allow him to fight internationally. “It’s hard work for sure but once the Community supports you, that’s really all you need. It’s really humbling to have that support.” 


Martinez’s amateur career took a pause with COVID-19. Last year when the pandemic hit, matches were cancelled and training in the gym was no longer an option. “It was hard, but at the same time it was what I needed,” said Martinez who took his training outdoors, something he had already been familiar with growing up in Casa Blanca.


He has two consecutive wins and doesn’t plan on slowing down. He trains three to four times a week and at least two times a day when preparing for a fight.  “I always liked just being active and (there’s) just something about combat sports. It helps me mentally, physically; it’s like therapy for me.” 


Martinez currently trains in Mesa with Power MMA. He says he is hoping to fight again this coming August.