Julian Marquez is taking wins in the octagon and the gossip columns

The KC fighter talks UFC comeback, Miley Cyrus friendship, and Kendra Lust podcast
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Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez at a post-fight press conference. // Via Twitter Livestream

On February 13, Julian “The Cuban Missile Crisis” Marquez won his middleweight main card fight against Maki Pitolo at UFC 258 in Las Vegas. It was his first fight back after spending two years out of the octagon, recovering from an injury sustained in his 2018 loss to Alessio Di Chirico. Saturday’s fight saw him struggling to contain a fiery Pitolo, before launching a third-round comeback that ended in his victory by submission with an impressive anaconda choke.

In his post-fight interview, he looked into the ESPN camera and asked Miley Cyrus to be his Valentine. By the next morning, Cyrus had responded on Twitter with a unique request. I caught up with Marquez on Wednesday afternoon via Zoom to talk about his big comeback, the Miley situation, and the podcast he started last year with adult film star Kendra Lust.

From what I read, the injury that you had is kind of a rare one. So I guess I want to know a little bit about what the recovery process was like and why they thought you weren’t going to be able to fight again.

In my last fight, the latissimus dorsi tendon that connects your lat to your arm, that controls all the pulling, pushing, it snapped off, completely severed. And I actually had to find a specialist that could do the surgery. So I found Dr. Verma, who’s out of Chicago, and he’s done the surgery and performed on a lot of MLB pitchers. And what he says is what happens when it gets overextended, they get a slight tear, whereas mine, he’s never seen it like that before. He’s never seen it completely severed from the bone itself. So they had to anchor it in. 

With that process, Dr. Verma needed to be safe. He had never seen this. And he does this five times a year and he’s been in the practice for a long time. He’s well known for this type of surgery. All these high-level MLB pitchers that had to go to him for this. And he was explaining like, “We have to make sure it stays on there. So we don’t want it to rip out and we have to anchor the tendon back into the bone.” 

Well, [it ended up getting] adhesive capsulitis. So for six weeks, I kept my arm in a sling. And for six weeks, my body was healing faster than the anticipated rate, kind of like Wolverine. I did the whole Wolverine healing and I over-healed myself, which caused adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, which locks your whole entire shoulder up. It’s kind of like sticking two pieces of chicken on top of each other in the freezer and keeping it there for six months, and then pulling it out. That’s exactly what happened. It was stuck. So it only had limited range of motion. Whenever it comes out like that, they do it the same way as two pieces of chicken stuck together, like how to separate that, how tough and difficult it is, but you can’t run hot water under it. So there’s no time frame when it comes to adhesive capsulitis. It just undoes itself when it undoes itself. 

And, man, it was a tough process. Because we legitimately had to do things that most people couldn’t do with their arm. We had to do things that most people couldn’t hold a stomach for. I’m telling you, you had to pull, you had to push you, had to almost re-break the scar tissue that was in there to the point we actually had to have another surgery because the scar tissue was so bad that we had to go in there and get it removed. And again it just continued. It continued to do that and it was very difficult. It was a tough one.

Yeah, sounds crazy. Looking back now, after you’ve won this comeback fight, are you glad this was the one you came back to, or do you still wish you got to fight Safarov last year?

No, it doesn’t bum me out in that sense, because it’s one of those things; you can’t control what you can’t control. Like I couldn’t control my arm getting ripped out. I couldn’t control the process of when it healed. I couldn’t control Safarov not making weight. All I could control was me. So for me to say, “I wish I would have fought Safarov,” it doesn’t matter. I’m excited that I got to fight. I was told at one point in time that I may not have been able to fight again. And now I’m stepping in the octagon. And it didn’t matter who it was with. And this is one of the greatest comeback stories on top of a comeback story. It wasn’t the best performance, but it was a great victory.

Catch everyone up on the Miley Cyrus situation and how that has all played out since the end of the fight.

I confessed my love to Miley Cyrus on live television, on pay per view, and it made a lot of waves. A lot of people retweeted and pushed it to the point where Miley decided to comment back and she told me to shave an “MC” in my chest and I’m all hers. And I responded back [I’d do it] if she got a henna tattoo of my nickname across her stomach. And she thought that was funny. So she followed me on social media. Everything’s cool. The public is upset with how I responded which is very weird. I wonder why people actually care how I handle my business, but it is what it is. 

And on top of it, everybody was so invested that I ended up talking to Barstool Sports. I talked to Robbie Fox, and I was like, “Hey, man, I want to help out your guys’ fund. You guys are changing the lives of people with Barstool.” I said, “How about we tie you guys in with the shaving my chest.” I said, “Let’s see if we can raise some more money to help out the COVID relief program you guys have for the small businesses,” because that’s what we do. I have all these views on me, all these people on me, all these eyes and for what? Like am I gonna sit there and just be selfish? No, like, if you know me, if you’ve known me, you can ask anybody, this is stuff that I like to do. This is who I am. This is my style. And I enjoy it. So we linked up together and now we have a link where you can donate to the Barstool Fund for COVID [relief] for small businesses. And once we hit our target number, we’ll end up shaving MC into my chest.

That’s great. So when did you first become a Miley Cyrus fan? I’m guessing you didn’t grow up watching “Hannah Montana.” So what has your fan journey been like?

That’s funny—I legitimately did watch “Hannah Montana.” It was just on during my era. When we grew up we didn’t have cell phones, we didn’t have all these games and stuff, so when I got home from school, I would just kind of hang out. I lived out in the country. You have to remember I lived out  30 minutes away from all my friends and it was a toll to actually get up and drive somewhere, sp if you didn’t have any plans, you just hang out. So I would just go see what was on TV and everybody loved watching the Disney Channel. I grew up on that. So I watched “Hannah Montana,” I loved the music, I partied in the USA, I blast all that out. 

And then, slowly but surely, she started coming out with better music, like music that made sense to me at the time. You know, I’ve fought injuries a lot, I fought a lot of different emotions growing up. And her music, “Wrecking Ball” was something that just stood out to me. That was one of the biggest [songs] I walked out to. In Kansas City, I walked out to “Wrecking Ball” and actually became a wrecking ball in the fight and threw a knee like a wrecking ball into a guy’s, ribs, broke his ribs and ended the fight while he was grounded. The first time anyone saw that. 

And then I went to concerts. I used to teach tumbling and all my students knew I loved Miley Cyrus. I would play the music during our tumbling class all the time. So my students actually bought me Miley Cyrus tickets when she came to Kansas City. She’s teamed up with Three 6, she came out with “Malibu,” she came out with “Prisoner;” she’s on this ‘80s kick now that’s even better. She’s decided to go with Blondie and remake “Heart Of Glass,” which is like one of my all-time favorite Blondie songs … I’ve always loved that song; we jammed out to Blondie years and years ago. And it’s just like, she’s evolving in the way that I’m evolving. And her interests are going the same route as me and it’s just like, I love her man. She’s amazing.

So how do you hope things play out from here with that?

I mean, the Miley situation probably is, we’re just going to be friends and that’s about as far as it’s gonna go. Like, this all is a friendship and I’m using what we have to help generate other things for different groups, charity and things like that. But we’re good with friends, man. Like, in all honesty, if you look at it, I’m trying to be a champion in the UFC, I have to sit there and go through my whole path. She’s been through her path, she’s got everything figured out, we’re on different wavelengths. And that’s pretty much where I see it at. And I don’t know why everyone else thought there was something way more than what it could have been. But it is what it is, you know? I am on my path in the UFC. She’s on her path and singing fantastic music and dope friends is where we’re gonna stay at.

That makes me want to ask: What’s on your gym playlist?

I do have a bunch of pop songs on there. I don’t know why. For some reason, the vibe, the music, everything. But I do have “Wrecking Ball” to kind of get me pumped up, excited. And then you’ll have “Heart Of Glass” in there. And then you have “23,” then I’ll have some Taylor Swift in there. I’ll have some Katy Perry. Then I kind of go into Spine, which is my brother’s band. And I play them and a lot of Bridge Nine [Records] music … Each song means something to me in a different way and each song brings a different style animal out of me, so I’m all over the place.

You co-host the Beauty And The Beast Podcast with adult film star Kendra Lust. What makes you guys work well together?

When you meet another cool person that’s on the same vibe as you and you can have a long conversation, it just turns into … something great. And that’s what happened with Kendra and I. We flow together, we talk together all the time, and we’re like, “Well, let’s just do a podcast. Let’s go from there. Let’s build it up.” And that’s what we have. And we have a great podcast where we talk about a bunch of different things. DC [fighter Daniel Cormier, who has recently talked some trash on Julian] needs to listen to it, because we talk about relationships. We talk about talking to women and things like that and I don’t think he understands that my response to Miley was definitely a power move instead of being a person that folds to a girl telling you, “Hey, do this for me and I’ll do this for you;” that type of deal.

How did you and Kendra first meet?

We met on her birthday, actually. She was in Vegas [where Julian used to train] on her birthday and we ended up meeting and kind of joining through there. I was with Eric Anders and his wife and we all just were connected through that.

I’m sure you’ll have plenty to talk about on the next episode.

Yeah, we [record] the next episode on Thursday. We’ll drop it Friday morning and there’s gonna be a lot of intriguing information that I’m going to reveal on there.

Follow Julian on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for updates on his UFC career, friendship with Miley, and podcast. You can donate to the Barstool Fund for small business COVID relief here.

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