Raul Rosa Jr., nicknamed El Niño Problema, made mincemeat of Jay Perrin on his dream debut fight in mid-December in the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas. But the brakes are in the name of development.
The Mexican-born California-based 18-year-old, who recently became the youngest winner in UFC history with a career-changing result, appears to be just at the start of building a legacy.
The high school student, who took to the T-Mobile Arena as the youngest-ever UFC competitor at just 18 years and 63 days, was on the initial receiving end from his 29-year-old opponent Perrin before making a comeback.
It took just two minutes 44 seconds for Rosas Jr. to turn the tables. He latched onto Perrin’s back and then flattened him out, eventually getting the better of the American.
He triumphed with a rear naked choke to register a remarkable first-round submission in their preliminary card matchup.
After his swift success at UFC 282, where he was richly rewarded, Rosas Jr. wanted to get back in the ring and fight in late January’s UFC 283 in Brazil.
However, Dana White has wisely held back on the youngest signing in UFC history, who inked a deal as an up-and-coming 17-year-old, to fine-tune his talents.
The new UFC signee has attracted rave reviews from some massive sporting names, as he is a raw talent who possesses the tools to trouble anyone.
Although Rosas Jr. seems to be rapidly emerging with a well-rounded skillset, his enthusiasm does mask any flaws. He will need to improve his stand-up if he wants to continue his fast development.
His pro record is 7-0, but most of his finishes have come by submission. It will be interesting to see whether the tenacious teenager can stay undefeated in 2023, following his much-hyped bantamweight triumph at the UFC 282 event.
Rosas Jr. was swift to show that he’s here for the long-haul by taking centre stage with the microphone to ask UFC president White for the promised US$50,000 bonus that he earned with his historic victory.
He appears to have a wise head on his young shoulders by publicly claiming that he aims to put this money to good use. He boldly used the microphone after his win to announce that he wants to purchase a minivan, so that his mother can transport him to and from the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas.
His parents, Oyuki Rios and Raul Rosas, immigrated to the United States from Iztapalapa. This area is considered to be one of the most dangerous and impoverished neighbourhoods in Mexico City.
They have been very supportive and proud of their son, who recently revealed that he experienced his first MMA fight in an octagon aged just eight years old.
The teenager is influenced by American icon Tony Ferguson, although Rosas Jr. doesn’t want to emulate the former interim UFC lightweight champion fighting style. He has set his sights on becoming one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time.
Yet success seemed to go to the youngest’s head, as he boldly claimed that he could win the bantamweight division. He is confident that he could take the mantle from UFC champion Aljamain Sterling, by defeating the 33-year-old Jamaican-American mixed martial artist.
Rosas quickly appeared on The MMA Hour channel following his successful debut and claimed: “If I know that I can’t be champion I would slow down a little bit. But I know I can be champion right now if I was to fight for the belt [bantamweight] right now.
“This is why I’m taking my career so quick, because I know I have everything to win that belt right now.”
He explained: “I decided to make my UFC debut already because I’m ready for it all. If I knew I wasn’t on that level and I couldn’t hang with these fools — I’m not even looking at anybody, all I see is gold.
“I don't know what the plan is, but I hope they are trying to fast track me because I am ready.”
There should certainly be more glory days ahead for Rosas Jr. in 2023. He knows how to throw a punch. Fans can follow his progress by checking out the latest odds at some of the best sportsbooks suggested by aussiebet.com.
Rosas Jr. is on a learning curve in the cage, but he is completely committed. Although he is arguably the jewel in the crown of Dana White's Contender Series, in 2023 to be a real star he will need to illuminate the ring each time rather than just shine against lesser opposition.