By: Nick Portella
What’s good fight fans? Today I had the chance to catch up with pro-MMA fighter and Tuesday Night Contender’s UFC contract recipient Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez. Julian is currently 6-1 with 6 finishes. He won his last fight on August 1, 2017, at the TUF Gym which secured his entry into the UFC. Let’s have a seat with Julian and get to know him a little bit better.
Nick: At what age did you begin to train martial arts?
Julian: I started wrestling in the seventh grade. When I was younger I did a little bit of Karate and some other stuff but didn’t stick with it.
Nick: How long have you been with Syndicate MMA?
Julian: I moved out here in March of 2016. I did a whole camp in here in July and November of 2015 also. It went well so I decided to just move out here.
Nick: Your nickname is The Cuban Missile Crisis. Who gave it to you and why?
Julian: It was given to me by Courtney and Dallas Browning who are two friends of mine. They actually housed me when I first made my move to Vegas. They were nice enough to let me live with them until I got everything sorted and on my feet with a job and my own place to live. They are the main reason I was able to come out to Vegas and train at Syndicate. I was going for the number one spot in the mid west area. Danny Click was my opponent and a highly ranked amateur at 10-0 at the time. I was in the back warming up so I don’t know what happened. What they told me was they were all sitting down and the announcer asked them what my nickname was. They said he doesn’t have one. The announcer said he needs one. Someone said the Cuban Assassin and Courtney said no lots of people have that. Dallas spoke up and said call him the Cuban Missile Crisis it’s a great name. So they announce my name with the nickname and I was just standing there waiting for them to call my name. I was used to just hearing my regular name. It was way longer and I’m in the zone ready to fight so I had no idea. The guys with me starting pushing me and I was like what are you doing. They told me they called me. I just started walking out laughing. It has stuck ever since. Everyone has wanted to change it. Some people don’t like it because it’s a failed government. I just liked it because it was original.
Nick: Did you consider changing your nickname to Big Foot after hanging out with Snoop?
Julian: No I can’t change it. I have to stay true to myself. People important to me gave me the name. It’s unique and who I am now. It’s funny and makes people smile. I’m waiting for Bruce Buffer to scream it when I enter the octagon.
Nick: Why did he want a picture with your foot?
Julian: I really don’t know. He was an awesome dude. He kept calling me Bigfoot and asked me for a photo so we took it just me and him. One of his friends said put your foot in there and Snoop also said it. So I did it. It was a lot of fun hanging with him. I didn’t care. Make fun of me and joking around is fine. If you laugh at me I’m bringing happiness. It’s all good.
Nick: I know you had a difficult weight cut prior to your fight against Phil Hawes. Can you share how much you cut the day of weigh ins?
Julian: The thing was the weight itself wasn’t the issue. I was ready and did a proper cut. 24 hours before weigh ins I wasn’t struggling or anything. The issue was I was in the suite area. They have all types of stuff up there. People were playing basketball, getting loud, drunk, and fighting. It kept me and my buddy who stayed with me awake. He kept calling down to the desk about it. I didn’t get a chance to sleep right really. Every time I would finally fall asleep something would happen outside the room and wake me up. I was stuck at two pounds. I wanted to cut nap go to the scale. I was up and cutting for 24 hours and couldn’t rest. It was to the point where I would get a sweat going and hop in the ice tub to shock myself awake. Go back to cut and be fine then start to slow down due to lack of sleep.
Nick: Phil Hawes is known for being a great wrestler and he had you on your back in the first round. While he didn’t do much damage at all from that position did you ever feel in danger with his skill set and where you were positioned?
Julian: I never really felt in danger. I knew in that situation that I wanted to stand up real fast and make it a standing fight. I realized my legs started hurting and began to feel the cut. He wasn’t throwing down anything or trying to put me in danger. I was calm and my coach was yelling at me to get up. If you watch the video I looked at him and shook my head no. I was good where I was and was picking and choosing what I wanted to do. I ended up getting up with him on my back. I wanted him to tire himself out. My cut was my biggest battle so I exerted energy when I needed to and it worked out.
Nick: I’m sure you have watched the fight since the win. The reactions from Dana White, Mick Maynard, and Sean Selby were priceless. How much of a confidence builder is that after seeing it?
Julian: I’ve watched it many times. My favorite reaction was Mick Maynard. It cracks me up. He had a shocked look on his face. Very authentic. He looked up and looked around like what just happened. My confidence didn’t get boosted because I envisioned all of this happening. I’ve been in these situations before. Every fight I get into I like to try and shock the world and put on a show. I like to get everyone invested because I invest a lot of myself into the fights and have fun. To see the reactions was very satisfying. All the hard work and training is paying off. It got them to their feet and made me realize I am doing things right.
Nick: You had a highlight reel knockout via head kick to finish the fight. The most interesting part was right after the knockout. Knowing you had a very good chance of your UFC dream coming true and winning in an exceptional fashion you decided to silently kneel and wait for your opponent to get up to ensure he was ok. Not many fighters would do that. What made you take that time and concern towards your opponent?
Julian: I honestly couldn’t tell you. It’s the way I was raised. At the end of the day, this is a sport. People think we hate each other. That’s not really what it is. I have celebrated after a knock out before. I didn’t feel any better. It’s exciting, but that’s it. I’m not trying to end anyone’s career or break their will. They should keep on competing. I know Phil had a few rough fights before this. I can give him ten minutes of respect in the cage. I can live that moment forever. I didn’t care what people think of me. I care about my performance and that no one got brutally harmed. If you go back and look at my first professional fight. I won the fight and heard my opponent went to the hospital afterward on a stretcher. I went to the hospital to check on him. We had some lunch and talked. We still talk to this day.
Nick: What does it feel like to be signed to the premier MMA promotion in the world and have your dreams come true?
Julian: I’m still kind of in a state of shock. I’m going to the performance institute now to do all these tests to get ready. This is something you dream about as a kid growing up. You work to be the most physical specimen you can be. It’s weird. It’s like a quote from the Dark Knight movie. The Joker said it’s like being a dog chasing the mailman. Once you finally catch him you don’t know what to do. It’s the same thing. I know what I’m supposed to do and it’s here. I always sad when it’s my time it will happen and happen fast and I’ll be ready. That didn’t work at all. It’s here and I’m just taking it as it comes and enjoying it all.
Nick: I know that it is still early but do you have an expected time to step into the UFC octagon for the first time?
I don’t know. I’m only 27 years old. The amount of time that a fighter has I can keep going until I’m 40 if the best case scenario happened. I’d have to be like Yoel Romero. That is rare and no one can be like him. So I figure I have ten years. I want to jump in and fight. I’d love to fight in the next two months and then get back in there on a fast turn around. I want to keep fighting and getting it in like Donald Cerrone. I have to say Yoel was one of the main people that got me to 185. He told me I could make 185 easy when everyone else was saying I was to big. He motivated me to do it and he is a fellow Cuban so I made 185.
Nick: If you could fight anyone real or fake as a dream fight who would it be and why?
Julian: If I was to fight my imaginary idol it would be John Wick. That’s my dude. I’ll tell you this right now, I have seen a lot of famous people in my life. It’s always cool but I wouldn’t lose my mind meeting a celebrity, but I would for Keanu Reeves. He is Neo, John Wick, the old boy from point break. He plays in all the movies that I love and he is just badass.
Nick: Julian have you submitted to the takeover?
Julian: This is Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez and i have submitted to the takeover.
Julian would like to thank God first and foremost. His sponsors BLC Foods and Longboards Kansas City Wraps. Tyler Mitten and Roger from the UFC for helping with the weight cut. His team at Syndicate MMA. John Wood, Marvin Eastman, and Tom Lawler. Huge thanks to his father Fernando Marquez. He was clutch for him this past weekend. He has gone through so much with me. He couldn’t put it into words other than thanks for being his dad. Huge shout out to his grandmother also. Lastly, thank you to the rest of his family and friends.
Julian is definitely one of my favorite interviews. He is a good person with a bright future ahead of him. Keep an eye out for him because he is ready to go. His UFC debut is on the horizon and it probably should not be missed. Signing off for TheMMATakeOver.com this is Nick Portella. @NickPortellaMMA