Isaiah Martinez: The Next Lion To Challenge The King

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Jordan Burroughs' reign over 74kg is coming up on the length of two full presidential terms. He has survived the three-period/ball-draw era. He has outlasted a change in weights that brought on cumulative scoring. And now, at nearly 30 years old, the newest shift is to same day weigh-ins.

WATCH FINAL X LIVE ON FLO

Where: Lincoln, NE | When: Saturday, June 9

In his latest edition of Tech Notes, Mike Mal did an excellent job breaking down the evolution of Burroughs for his Final X matchup in Lincoln, NE, this Saturday. But Mike Mal also started off those Tech Notes analyzing Burroughs' opponent: Isaiah Martinez.

The latest in a long line of combatants to take a shot at Burroughs, Martinez is following in the footsteps of Andrew Howe, Kyle Dake, and David Taylor. That means Burroughs' opponents to make world teams have a total of nine NCAA titles and 13 finals appearances. Here's another fun stat: A month before Burroughs won his Olympic gold medal, Martinez won a Junior Fargo title.

When Burroughs first met Howe, it was in a "supermatch" at the 2010 Midlands finals, the year after Howe's undefeated NCAA title run. Howe would go on to be Burroughs' opponent in the 2011 World Team Trials, as well as the final hurdle for JB to make both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic teams.

Once Kyle Dake graduated from Cornell in 2013, with four NCAA titles at four different weights, he made the 2013 WTT finals. Again in 2015, Dake made the Trials finals, and last year completed his every-other-year run to the finals, only to fall short to the greatest American wrestler in a generation. Now, Dake has been teammates with Burroughs on the World Cup team and is the favorite to join Burroughs at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in October.

David Taylor only made the Trials finals once against Burroughs, but their 2014 Open final is one of those legendary matches that is a huge and unforgettable part of the Burroughs canon.

So after all these years, there are still young pups coming up the ladder, hungry to topple the king and make their mark. We probably should have seen this coming four years ago when IMar tore through the NCAA's 157lb division like a force of nature, becoming the first freshman since Cael Sanderson to finish a season undefeated.

But this has been a long time coming for the California native Martinez. He lost in the 2014 Junior Trials to Anthony Valencia. Then in the 2016 non-Olympic weight Trials, he fell 10-9 to Jimmy Kennedy in the semis at 70kg and defaulted out. I should mention that in between he made the 2016 University team, only for America to not attend the World Championships that year.

Part of the reason the general fan base is not giving Martinez much of a chance against Burroughs is that he finished fourth at the 2017 WTT, losing to Dake and Alex Dieringer, both of whom are now up at 79kg. But four-time NCAA finalist has evolved, as evidenced by his devastating gut wrench at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas back in April.

In five matches at the U.S. Open this year, IMar averaged 4.4 points per match just on guts.

This weekend in Lincoln, Burroughs' home base for the last dozen years, he and Martinez will close out the Final X card. No one, or at least very few people, is giving IMar a chance. He is but the latest in a long string of challengers to the throne. And yet, with Burroughs pushing 30, potentially in the twilight of his career, perhaps Martinez will finally be the one to snatch the spot.

Can Martinez stop the double? Can he keep himself from getting laced? How big of a difference will there be between one of the greatest collegiate wrestlers ever and one of the best freestylers the world has ever seen? 

At the top of this article, I could have put a Final X hype video or I could have used a match from the U.S. Open. Instead, though, I went with the legendary video of Burroughs, set to the speech Christopher Walken gave in "Poolhall Junkies." But there's a line at the end of the scene that perfectly applies to Martinez, and anyone else who wishes to knock off the five-time world and Olympic champ.

"It's too late to be scared. It's time to kill."

Final X Lincoln Match Order

70kg: James Green vs. Jason Chamberlain

59kg: Alli Ragan vs. Jenna Burkert

97kg: Kyle Snyder vs. Kyven Gadson

55kg: Becka Leathers vs. Jacarra Winchester

57kg: Thomas Gilman vs. Daton Fix

68kg: Tamyra Stock vs. Randyll Beltz

74kg: Jordan Burroughs vs. Isaiah Martinez

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