In what has to be one of the most absurd match-ups in Mixed Martial Arts history, former Miami backyard street fighter Rene "Level" Martinez is facing off against ex-professional boxing champ Ricardo Mayorga in Managua, Nicaragua this Saturday. Mayorga's boxing career washed out in 2011 after losing to Miguel Cotto. At the time, chain-smoking, hard-drinking Mayorga told boxing reporters "it was time to find a new job" so he took up MMA. Although that hasn't exactly panned out. His first fight against UFC vet Din Thomas fell apart and then his actual "debut" in May ended with a disqualification due Mayorga throwing a blatantly illegal knee to his opponent's spine.
Martinez, meanwhile, has slowly built a respectable 4-0-1 record as an MMA fighter since turning pro in 2009. He's won two decisions and two other matches by submission and knockout. Both fighters have been talking a lot of trash leading up to their match in Managua this weekend.
See also: On the Level
Martinez was once one of the most fearsome gang bangers in Miami. In the Nineties, he was leader of the Latin Syndicate and was in and out of jail for gang banging related criminal activities. He gave up that life after finding religion. Despite his ferociousness in the ring, Level is a born again Christian. Like one-time MMA phenom Kimbo Slice, Martinez was recruited into professional MMA by beating dudes up in unsanctioned no-holds-barred backyard bouts.
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Here is Level giving an interview to Rodolfo Roman, host of a Miami-based Internet variety radio show that focuses on MMA:
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.