If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Julian Marquez, it’s that you never know who he’s going to call out after an octagon victory.
After submitting Sam Alvey in the second round of UFC Vegas 23 this past Saturday, Marquez called out Kansas City Chiefs stars Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill “to a badminton or pickleball competition,” to which all three championship players favorably responded to hours later.
From getting the attention of Miley Cyrus, to the big names representing the back-to-back AFC champion Chiefs, there’s always a method to Marquez’s madness. With this particular callout, as he told MMA Fighting’s What the Heck this week, it’s about giving back to his city with the help of fellow athletes who helped him through a tough time in his life.
“We’re all from Kansas City and we rep our city,” Marquez said. “We’re all athletes, and during the time of my layoff where I was recovering, these guys gave me a lot of hope and showed a lot of heart winning the Super Bowl, and going back-to-back to the Super Bowl. There’s a lot of things they did for me and for this city that I assume do the same for others. I want to have that same inspiration, the same drive and, the thing is, I love pickleball. I want to play against some of the people that I love watching play football.
“Now, I can’t play them in football, because they are really good at their sport, like really good. They’re like the No. 1s across the board in all categories. And I don’t want to fight them, because I need them for 2022 to win another Super Bowl. Pickleball is a safe [thing] to play and I’m really good at it, and I know they like to play the same thing.”
It’s one thing to have fun on social media and get fans excited, but Marquez has already gotten the ball rolling. While it’s going to take some time to figure out the logistics, “The Cuban Missile Crisis” expects things to be ready to go late spring, early summer according to preliminary plans.
“It’s going down – 100 percent it’s going down,” Marquez stated. “We’re in talks. We’re figuring out dates.
“Kansas City supports Kansas City and I knew they were gonna respond back because we’re on the same team. We represent the same city and we walk with K.C. We bleed red, yellow and blue. That’s us. I’m just pumped that they want to play.
“But we’re in the process of figuring everything out at this moment. Mahomes just had surgery, so we have to [wait for] that. We’re talking to the Chiefs. I was messaging Travis Kelce, going back and forth joking around. Kelce’s not even in K.C. right now so it’s gonna happen. I’m thinking a month, two months maybe. But we’re not rushing this, we’re gonna make it big. We’re gonna make it worth it for Kansas City, we’re gonna build it up, find the right charity to donate to and the world will be watching again.”
After a nearly three-year layoff from competition due to injuries and uncontrollable hurdles, Marquez has maximized his 2021 campaign thus far. The 30-year-old had a successful return to the octagon with a third-round submission win over Maki Pitolo at UFC 258 in February. The Glory MMA standout stepped in on short notice for teammate Zak Cummings to face Alvey this past Saturday on the main card—which aired on ABC—and used a patient, yet opportunistic approach to put the near 50-fight veteran to sleep with a rear-naked choke in the second round after a flurry of strikes.
Marquez plans to keep the train rolling sometime “between July and September,” as he is dealing with injuries to his hand and foot that he suffered in the fight. For now, Marquez is smelling the roses after defeating a man he truly admires.
“I feel amazing,” Marquez said. “I’m on top of the world. I’m pumped, dude. I took a short-notice fight against someone I loved to watch, someone I watched a lot growing up and it was a huge test for me. It was a huge, nerve-racking fight for myself and I can’t put into words how it feels to compete against someone like Sam Alvey, a true veteran of the sport.
“I was so nervous for him. In the back I felt like I was gonna throw up. James kept talking to me, he knows how to talk to me and for some reason, it’s just weird, but whenever I get into the octagon, whenever the lights come on, the camera shows up, this person inside me comes out that nobody’s ever seen before.”