The life of any professional fighter isn’t easy, but the life of previously unknown Rad Martinez is especially difficult. He has dreams of making it to the UFC, but as you’ll see in the ESPN “Outside the Lines” report below, Martinez isn’t able to put in the hours that elite fighters do because he has a far greater responsibility at home of taking care of his brain-damaged father who was left in a vegetative state after a car accident in 1991.

It’s a heart-wrenching story, but the good news is it resulted in Martinez landing a multi-year, multi-fight deal with Bellator after Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney saw the OTL piece. Rebney told ESPN’s Josh Gross that they hope to get Martinez enough sponsorship money to help ease the burden he has caring for his father so he has more time to focus on training.

Bellator, said Rebney, is reaching out to a collection of sponsors and interested parties who could help with “putting Rad in a position where he has the economic wherewithal” to find help for his father. “Then he really has to focus on getting in the gym and being the best mixed martial artist he can be. There’s no question in my mind he’ll do that.

“He’s a very talented fighter who happens to have a very inspirational story. But he needs some help. We’re trying to give a guy that could be a very special fighter for us an opportunity, and at the same time it’s doing something good that could work out really well for him and us.”

Martinez added in the press release that UFC lightweight champ Frankie Edgar introduced him to MMA and he really looks forward to testing himself against elite competition.

“Frankie Edgar is definitely the one that talked me into giving MMA a shot,” Martinez said. “Every day he was always telling me how good I would be at MMA and how much I would love it, and eventually he just ended up talking me into it.

“When I step in that cage, and even when I get to go to practice, that’s when the shackles come off,” said Martinez. “That’s when I’m free to be me – to think about me and what I have to do right now.”

“I’ve always had confidence in my ability and felt like I could compete with anybody in the world, but when you’re talking about guys like Joe Warren, Patricio Pitbull and Marlon Sandro in the Bellator featherweight division, you’re talking about three of the absolute best featherweights in the world,” said Martinez. “I’m just really looking forward to being able to test myself against that elite level of competition.”

I really hope it works out for him. Check out the OTL report below.

Image via Jeff Sherwood for Sherdog