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Strong spokes: Markham opens up

Story by Brady Crytzer

On Saturday, February 21st the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to London to present UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson. Though the event lacks a world title bout, UFC 95 features some of the best young title hopefuls in the sport. In a mix that includes Nate Maquardt, Wilson Gouviea, Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson, Chicago native and Miletich product Rory Markham has high hopes for his second fight inside the Octagon.  

No stranger to rising to the occasion, Markham attributes his success to his unique perspective on life.  

“If I were a wheel, I’d like to have strong spokes. Everyday is a learning experience and an opportunity for personal growth.”

A former standout in other organizations, Markham is a hard nosed banger with little regard for his own personal safety. Known for his intense pace and heavy hands, the less than well-traveled Markham will feel right at home in front of the raucous London crowd.

“I think my style will be received well over there,” Markham said. “I am excited. It has always been a dream of mine to do a lot of traveling. I have never really left the continental U.S. and I’m excited to see some exotic locales. I’ve always wanted a job that I loved and that would let me see the world.”

Markham made his UFC debut in July of 2008 where he scored a highlight reel KO that will go down in infamy as the Octagon’s best head kicks.

“I threw the kick with full intentions of hurting him. Pat (Miletich) told me to create some distance and bait him in, so I just told myself ‘I will throw this kick, if it lands its over, but I need to keep this guy away,’ the kick landed and as soon as it connected I knew that guy was done. It was like a walk off homerun.”

There is no doubt that everyone in attendance will remember that finish, but the fight was no cake walk for the Chicago native. Farber, Markham’s unfortunate opponent that July night, displayed fast hands himself as he hoped to upset his opponent in his UFC debut.  

“I have really had a chance to grow in some other organizations,” Markham explained. “If there is one thing that I’ve learned its that sometimes I need to take a step back sometimes. You can see in some of my older fights that I consciously try to stop myself from just jumping in. In the Farber fight, I was just thinking ‘I need to keep this guy off of me.’”

Markham, a member of the vaunted MFC Elite team, will not be making this trans-Atlantic journey alone. With him will be teammate and friend Mike Ciesnolevic. Markham takes solace in his presence and his hopeful for his future.

“Mike Ciesnolevic is an absolute monster,” Markham said. “He lives fairly close to the gym, so he is there all the time. He is definitely a guy that will make a difference in the UFC. He is without a doubt the best ground fighter in our (Pat Miletich’s) gym.”

Markham will be the first to admit that his life hasn’t changed as much as he’d hoped over the last six months. Make no mistake about it, Markham puts his fighting career first…even if his loved ones lose patience.

“Everyone sees what I do as a luxury,” Markham joked. “My friends see that I workout all day, and then they get mad when I don’t return their calls. This is my job and I am a professional. I will probably lose a lot of friends, though.”


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