Courtesy of UFC
Friday, March 19, 2010 | 11:54 p.m.
DENVER, Colo. — Eliot Marshall isn’t a hard man to track down these days.
After welcoming his first child, Kannen Henry Marshall, to the family last December, the UFC light heavyweight is typically either in the gym training or at home doing all kinds of "dad stuff."
And as it turns out, training to compete in the UFC and parenting go together better than one might think.
“It’s been great for training,” Marshall said. “When I’m training, I’m taking care of business and not thinking about my family. When I go home, I take my mind off fighting, and I’m doing the things a dad is supposed to do.
“That’s been really good for me. Sometimes you’ll dwell on a fight all day long, but I don’t do that now that I have a baby that needs me.”
Marshall (8-2) couldn’t have asked for much better circumstances surrounding his upcoming fight against Vladimir Matyushenko (23-4) this Sunday.
The 29-year-old fighter hasn’t had to forfeit any time with his 3-month-old son to travel, as the UFC on VERSUS event will be held in Broomfield, Colo., a 15-minute drive from Marshall’s home.
While Marshall admits he's occasionally dwelt upon this weekend's fight, the responsibilities of fatherhood have cleared his mind for the fight more than ever before.
“There’s nothing like knowing you’re going to fight a certain time, date and place,” Marshall said. “If you broke into my house right now, then it would just be on. I don’t have time to dwell on it. But if somebody told me I had to fight you in 10 weeks, I’d get pretty nervous during those 10 weeks.
“I still do that sometimes. Everyone gets nervous. But having a son has put it all in perspective for me. Whether I win or lose the fight, I’m still going to have parents who love me, a wife who loves me and I’m going to have that baby to take care of.”
Marshall isn’t the only one fighting in his home state this weekend. Teammates heavyweight Brendan Schaub and lightweight Duane Ludwig will also enjoy the advantage of familiar surroundings.
However, the term "home" might mean more to Marshall, who couldn’t wait to leave the area in New Jersey he grew up in.
“I didn’t have the greatest experience in New Jersey. I didn’t have any friends,” Marshall said. “But I loved to ski. So when I graduated high school, I picked the farthest-away college from New Jersey where there were good mountains to ski at.”
Colorado turned out to be the perfect home for Marshall, especially when he teamed up with jiu-jitsu expert Amal Easton and began training for a mixed martial arts career.
He quickly built a reputation as a ground expert, posting four wins by submission in his first five fights.
“I believe you need to get good at one thing, especially when you’re beginning to fight, where you know this is how I’m going to win fights,” Marshall said. “If you’re kind of good at a couple things, you’ll get in there and not know what you want to do. I got in there knowing I was going to put this dude on the ground and he’s going to tap.”
Once Marshall felt he had a solid base for his game, he sought the help of Ludwig as a sparring partner and shortly after found a home among Denver’s top fighters.
The story on Marshall has changed quickly since the. He’s developed into a well-rounded fighter almost overnight.
With an undefeated 3-0 record in the UFC, Marshall is aware his stock may be rising in the organization but at this point, he doesn’t really care.
For now, it’s about cherishing moments like this weekend and living with no regrets.
“I don’t do this for fame,” Marshall said. “It would be nice to make a fortune, but that’s not why I do this. I do this because I love to fight. I do this so that when I die, I don’t look back and say, ‘I could have been this. I should have done that.’"
“You only live one time, and this is what I’m doing right now.”