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Marquel Mederos prepares to face Issa Isakov of Russia in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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MarQuel Mederos Feels Like Fighting Is Second Nature

Ahead Of His UFC Debut At UFC Fight Night: Dolidze vs Imavov, MarQuel Mederos Is As Confident As Can Be

If you’ve been in this business for any length of time, you can almost see the deer in the headlights look through a phone line when speaking to a fighter about to make his UFC debut.

MarQuel Mederos is not that guy. And as his first trip to the Octagon to face Landon Quinones on Saturday approaches, you wouldn’t even know he had a fight scheduled. He’s that relaxed.

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“I felt like I always knew I was going to get here,” said Mederos, who earned his contract with a win over Issa Isakov on Dana White’s Contender Series last October. “I was surrounded by guys who are already here, and just competing with them on a day-to-day basis, they would always tell me, you're going to get there at one point. And I just knew through my work ethic and my mental game that I would get there, eventually. Of course, I love being part of the UFC. A lot of dudes don't even make it to this point, but it would be a lie for me to tell you that was my only goal.”

Marquel Mederos punches Issa Isakov of Russia in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Marquel Mederos punches Issa Isakov of Russia in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

No, Mr. Mederos, a member of the Factory X squad in Colorado, has bigger things in his sights than just getting to the show. So, he wasn’t walking around town decked out in his UFC gear, throwing around the “I’m a UFC fighter” card. In other words, he’s unlike most in his position.

 

“I feel like that's a problem with a lot of people nowadays,” he said. “They celebrate when it’s not always appropriate to celebrate. The job's not finished. I feel like I love the game so much that I celebrate the little victories every day. But as far as the overall picture, I feel like you can't celebrate until you get the job done and the job's not done for me.”

Unwilling to take a participation trophy, the 27-year-old Mederos is pretty old school for someone who hasn’t hit 30 yet, and it’s refreshing. It’s also an approach that was instilled in him a long time ago.

Marquel Mederos punches Issa Isakov of Russia in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Marquel Mederos punches Issa Isakov of Russia in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

“I was raised by my step pops, and he was an older guy,” he explains. “My mom, she had me when she was 16. My dad was 19, but we moved to Texas when I was younger. A bunch of stuff happened, but he was an older man, and it wasn't like a lot of affection and stuff. It was just, ‘Hey, get the job done,’ and that's how it was going to be. He had a very old school mentality and I think it's just something I became accustomed to over the years. I grew into it, and through life experiences, too. I felt like I had to grow up a little bit earlier than normal. So, it comes from those things - life experiences and the people around me.”

That says a lot when it comes to the fact that just six years after his first amateur fight, Mederos is in the UFC, about to throw hands with the best lightweights in the sport. And if you’ve seen him in action, you’ll have to admit that he looks ready for the step up, despite competing in just nine pro fights. As for his rapid rise, he says don’t try this at home.

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“It gives them a false hope,” he laughs when asked about his fellow prospects making it to the UFC with less than three years of pro experience. “I've had people come up to me and they're like, ‘Man, I can get to the UFC,’ and I'm like, ‘No, you can't.’ I'm a special kind of guy. And I feel like that being said, there's not many people who can do what I do, and it gives people a false sense of hope. But, I don't know. It's funny. I invite people to the gym and then you get a dose of reality real quick. It's humbling for a lot of people,”

Then what is it that got him here? Talent? Yes. Attitude? Yes. Determination? Yes. You can also add in work ethic and adherence to the responsibilities that come with being a parent. It’s a lot, but there’s more.

Marquel Mederos reacts after his victory against Issa Isakov of Russia in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC(
Marquel Mederos reacts after his victory against Issa Isakov of Russia in a lightweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC(

“I feel like fighting is the ultimate form of self-expression,” Mederos said. “If a man is timid when he gets in there, typically he can be broken. Now, he might put up a good front the same way he might in real life; he might put up a good poker face for a round, but he can be broken. The same way a man is confident, his confidence carries him into the cage. Let's say a guy has a chip on his shoulder. He might not be the best technically, but he might be a dog. So I always feel like fighting is the physical self-expression of who you really are as a person. For me, I feel like I'm very comfortable. I'm very confident when I go in there, and it becomes second nature.”

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No deer in the headlights look here.

“I feel like that's the only reason I'm able to do this in six years, because I am able to pick up on these things so fast,” he said. “It's not anything but that. I'm not saying the work wasn't there. The work obviously is necessary, but there's also a level of comprehension that you have to have in order to make that work come to fruition and come to reality. You can work all day and some people just don't have that little thing that some people have. I just have something that I feel like a lot of people don’t.”

 

 

 

UFC Fight Night: Dolidze vs Imavov took place live from UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 3, 2024. See the final Main Card & Prelim Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!