BROOMFIELD, Colo. – UFC light heavyweight Eliot Marshall (8-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has a lot going on right now.
As if being a new father to a 15-week-old son isn't enough, Marshall is also wrapping up training camp for a fight in front of his hometown crowd.
But on the eve of his fight against the highly decorated Vladimir Matyushenko (23-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) at Sunday night's UFC on Versus 1 event, Marshall has holed himself up in a Broomfield, Colo., hotel room no more than a mile from his house and is focused solely on one thing: victory.
"I'm a routine kind of person," Marshall told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
). "I like to do what I normally do when it's time to fight, and that's not sitting at home watching my TV on my couch and looking at my computer. It's staying in the hotel room and making weight and suffering."
So despite the fact that he's fighting in what one could easily call a "home game," Marshall is sacrificing even more time with his family in order to treat the contest just like any other.
"I'm so sad," Marshall admitted. "I haven't seen my son for three days. I'm sad, but on Monday, I get to go see him. It's my gift after the fight.
"Obviously, I want to see my baby, but it's good motivation for me. It's been great motivation the whole camp for me."
While the strong emotions in his family right now are obvious motivations for Marshall, the fact that he's facing the most well-known opponent of his four-year career probably doesn't hurt either. But while a win would be Marshall's fourth-straight in the UFC, he insists he only worries about what he brings to the table, not what the bout means in terms of his career.
"I don't even think about that kind of stuff," Marshall said. "When it's my time, it's my time. When it's not my time, it's not my time, you know? You can't control what other people are going to do. You can't control what other people are going to say. All I have to do is go do my thing. That's it.
"I can't think about, 'Beat Vladdy this,' or 'Lose to Vladdy that.' It's nothing. It's other people's perceptions."
Matyushenko will provide a nice measuring tool with which to gauge Marshall's progress. "The Fire" sees it more as a chance to prove the days of "The Janitor" may be limited.
"He's a tough veteran," Marshall said. "He's a real wrestler. Nothing that's going to happen is going to rattle him in there. But I feel like I'm just the new generation of fighter. I put it all together really well between the striking and the wrestling and the ground. I just think I have what it takes.
"He's older, and sometimes you get stuck in your ways. You're doing the same things the same way and have had some success, but [this fight is] a little passing of the guard, maybe."
Some would argue that Matyushenko's wrestling prowess matches or exceeds that of "TUF 8" winner Ryan Bader, who defeated Marshall during the Spike TV-broadcast competition. Marshall believes while comparing the skills of the two opponents may be fair, comparing his own progress as a fighter during those two time periods is impossible.
"You saw what happened with Jason Brilz, right?" Marshall asked regarding his UFC 103 win. "I did not get taken down one time. That's a different Eliot Marshall. I was a totally different fighter from when I fought Brilz to when I fought Bader. I'm even a better different fighter now from when I fought Jason Brilz.
"I took my week off after my fight, and that's it. I trained through some injuries. I trained through a baby. I'm a different fighter."
Marshall looks to prove to the world that he belongs among the 205-pound division's top fighters in his preliminary card contest with Matyushenko. And with the professional and personal sacrifices that Marshall has made to make it to the cage, he's ready to shine.
"I'm ready to go," Marshall said. "I'm focused. I'm feeling good, and it is what it is. It's time to fight on Sunday. I signed up, and now I get to go have fun.
"I don't have to fight. I get to fight on Sunday. That's a big difference. If you think it's something you have to do, it's not so great. But it's what I get to go do after all this hard work."