Rising lightweights Paris Artis and Jonathan Martin battle in a Main Event bout our analysts are calling a significant chapter in Carolinas’ MMA history

Ahead of Fight For It XX, our analysts See Stevenson and Dylan McGrath break down the main event bout between surging lightweights Paris “Ares” Artis and Jonathan “The Phenom” Martin. Both Stevenson and McGrath are calling this bout one for the ages. Here, they’ll tell you why.

DYLAN MCGRATH: The significance this bout between Paris Artis and Jonathan Martin holds for the Carolinas’ MMA scene cannot possibly be overstated. 

Here, we have a face-off between two men who are, undeniably, the most desirable prospects in the Southeast right now. At Fight For It XX, they’ll battle to determine the region’s best at 155 pounds, with high potential for the winner — or for both men, for that matter — to move on to the big show.

SES STEVENSON: Even without the career prospects looming for both Artis and Martin, this promises to be a thrilling fight decided by the intangible elements of the MMA game. 

Both men are capable mixed martial artists with incredible finishing abilities. On the surface this fight looks like the classic striker (Artis) vs. grappler (Martin). But if you peel back the layers, what you will find are two versatile MMA fighters who generate their success by creating amazing flows and tactical decisions, and capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes.

DM: This is a dream fight for any MMA fan. Artis and Martin are two complete, well-rounded martial artists with no immediately obvious weaknesses. And both almost always deliver fight-ending sequences and excitement with every exchange.

SS: Yes! They’ve both fought credible competition with winning records. And even against tough opponents, both men have a 100 percent finishing rate when they win.

Artis built a reputation for his devastating striking, but his recent evolution as a grappler has made him truly formidable. He transitions seamlessly between the realms of striking and grappling, which presents a perplexing riddle for opponents to decipher. 

On the other side of the cage, Martin’s prowess as a grappling virtuoso often hides his lethal striking arsenal. His towering frame and extensive reach allow him to operate with surgical precision, picking apart adversaries at distance before they can engage in contact range.

DM: I’m sure that excitement will be palpable in the Kerr Scott Building on May 11.

SS: Definitely. The rise of these two fighters has been something special to witness. There’s an interwoven narrative that binds these warriors. Their paths have intersected at pivotal junctures, forging a shared history that adds depth to their rivalry. 

For starters, they both crossed paths with a common adversary, Marcus Fludd, early in their fighting careers. And they achieved different outcomes.Artis emerged victorious in a closely contested affair, while Martin tasted the bitter pill of defeat.

Since then, both have gone on to strive for championship glory, further entangling their destinies. While Artis fell agonizingly short of capturing a coveted title, Martin earned his first professional title with a fifth-round stoppage that encapsulated his indomitable spirit and relentless pursuit of excellence.

On May 11, we’ll get the see the latest act in this ongoing saga. I can’t wait.

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