Mexico has in recent times started to reveal to the rest of the world a truly excellent new wave of fighters taking the UFC by storm. As their recognition and legacies grow, so too does the quality of upcoming mixed martial artists. Set on its way by a few key trailblazers, this country is starting to put its mark on the map with a whole host of exciting and dynamic mixed martial artists. Here are eleven Mexican fighters who have made a significant impact in the UFC.
The UFC's first ever Mexican born Champion, Brandon Moreno has been through it all. Originally released by the UFC after losing back to back fights against Alexandre Pantoja and Sergio Pettis, Moreno stormed his way back in after gaining the LFA Flyweight title. A draw with the fearsome Askar Askarov and three wins over huge Flyweight names saw the birth of one of the most legendary trilogies in MMA between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueredo. There may still be unfinished business between them, but Brandon has already secured his position as a great of Mexican MMA and will look to continue to shine for many more years.
Yair Rodriguez has been nipping at the heels of a Featherweight title shot for quite some time now, ever since emerging victorious in 2019 against Jeremy Stephens. Having put in the work and going 8-1 (1 NC) over his first ten fights in the UFC, 'El Pantera' has since come up agonizingly short against the division's second best in Max Holloway, but showed great signs of promise in their five round war. At just 29 years old, the future is incredibly bright for this supremely talented prospect that has already set the stage alight and looks to continue to do so for years to come.
The two time Featherweight title challenger quickly made a name for himself in the UFC, scoring six consecutive finishes after his UFC debut, spread evenly with three knockouts and three submissions apiece. Primarily known for an aggressive ground game that can submit anyone at any moment, this was on show more than ever before in his recent losing effort against Featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski, coming within inches of choking out Volkanovski on two separate occasions. Undefeated outside of title fights, Ortega has proven he can hang with the best, and at 31 years of age, he still has plenty of time to build on his legacy.
Henry Cejudo blasted his way to UFC supremacy by way of double champ status after finishing Marlon Moraes and earning the Bantamweight strap, a rarified feat achieved and celebrated by only three other fighters so far; Conor McGregor, Amanda Nunes, and Daniel Cormier. Henry's constant media attention and commentary on current fighters has led to continuous speculation that he may be returning imminently ever since he retired, however the most tantalizing piece of evidence regarding this is Cejudo's re-entry into the USADA testing pool earlier this year.
More recently known as a veteran voice of the UFC commentary team, Dominick Cruz is far from done fighting. With his lightning fast footwork and high pace action in each fight, Cruz has been a handful for every fighter that has come before him, and is a two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion. Injuries have been an unfortunate recurring theme of Cruz's career, yet he has amassed an overall record of 24-3, with a current two fight win streak building momentum towards another shot at title glory. Cruz will be looking to build further on that when he meets the streaking Marlon 'Chito' Vera in August in what could line someone up for a title eliminator bout very soon.
Arguably the UFC's most dangerous fighter, there isn't a soul alive that has fought Gaethje and come out anything less than immensely damaged. Even in his most recent losing effort for the Lightweight crown against Charles Oliveria, Justin inflicted huge damage in a short amount of time as he is known to do, and it is rare for a fighter to come out of a fight looking like they haven't just experienced hell. From his utter destruction of Tony Ferguson to a systematic dismantling of an in form Donald Cerrone, Justin brings it every time he steps into the cage, as evidenced by his incredible 10 post fight bonuses in 10 fights. Far from done trying to achieve Lightweight glory, expect to see Justin returning sometime before the end of the year in his quest for another shot at the belt.
The long time Boogeyman of the Lightweight division, 'El Cucuy' once tormented fighters up and down the rankings, scoring an insane 12 fight win streak in the UFC's most stacked division at the time. The wins came against a murderer's row of names, with Tony picking up finishes against formidable fighters such as Donald Cerrone, Anthony Pettis, Kevin Lee, and Edson Barboza amongst others, securing eight post fight bonuses along the way. Whilst falling on hard times recently, the former interim Lightweight Champion still has a lot to prove.
The original winner of The Ultimate Fighter, it's hard to overlook the legacy Diego Sanchez has achieved over his years of fighting in the UFC. Debuting at UFC at just 23 years old, Sanchez went on to fight for the world's premier MMA organization an astounding 26 times, picking up notable wins against names such as Jim Miller, Takanori Gomi, Clay Guida, and Nick Diaz. 'The Nightmare' finished up with the UFC in 2020 after an incredible 14 year run, establishing himself as an iconic name in the sport and trendsetter for years to come. Diego was one of the pioneers of mainstream MMA fame, and his long and storied career has brought an abundance of eyes to Mexican MMA and enriched the world for the better.
The former UFC Heavyweight Champion began his career at a blistering pace, racking up 6 straight wins with 5 knockouts culminating in Heavyweight title glory with a first round finish of the indomitable Brock Lesnar at UFC 121. Cain's first reign wasn't too last long however, as he was quickly dispatched by Junior dos Santos in his first attempt at a title defense. Not to be deterred, Cain came back with a vengeance, defeating JDS in December of 2012 to become the third ever two-time UFC champion, and the first person to achieve such status in five years.
Perhaps the greatest UFC fighter to never win a belt, Joseph Benavidez was eternally at the fringe of getting a title yet never quite making it over the line. Having been with the UFC ever since it merged with the WEC in 2011, Joseph built an incredible UFC record of 15-2 outside of championship fights. His well rounded game had no weak spots, and his effortless blending of Muay Thai, wrestling, and BJJ continued to vex the Flyweight division for nearly a decade. The final hurdle of gaining the championship belt proved too much for Benavidez on multiple occasions though, with Joseph falling to Demetrious Johnson, Henry Cejudo, and Deiveson Figuereido (twice) in title fights. Retiring with a fantastic record of 28-8 overall, Benavidez earnt the respect of fans and media alike throughout his long and storied career.
Emerging as a dark horse contender in the UFC Women's Flyweight division, Alexa Grasso has gone undefeated since moving up in weight class to her true home at Flyweight. Currently sitting at 14-3, Alexa commanded decisive victories over Ji Yeon Kim and Maycee Barber before running through Joanne Wood and choking her out in the first round for the biggest win of her career to date earlier this year. Currently sitting at #5 in the UFC Women's Flyweight rankings, Grasso is booked to fight fellow contender Viviane Araujo later in August in what could shape up to be the winner's ticket to a showdown against Valentina Shevchenko. At just 28 years of age, the future is incredibly bright for this talented prospect.
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