The UFC is bringing in a fighter just shy of his 18th birthday.
Raul Rosas Jr. became the youngest fighter to sign with the UFC with a unanimous decision victory over Mando Gutierrez in the Dana White series. Impressed by Rosas’ performance, White offered the teenager a contract before the show ended, which he accepted. Rosas is the youngest wrestler to compete in the Dana White Championship Series.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” White said of Rosas’ age and playing against Gutierrez. “Not only that, but the number of fighters blasting me saying you’re crazy (not signing him)… he’s absolutely, positively brilliant. He’s special, he’s different.”
The 25-year-old Gutierrez, a bantamweight fighter, has been dominated by Rosas for the most part. He almost finished Gutierrez in the first round, delivering a barely-used Sulov stretch from back control. Gutierrez had a few moments, taking Rosa down and landing ground-and-pound. But almost always, Rosas ends up in a better position, using his agility, skill and creativity on the ground to roll his way to the top.
“I know I’m going to take this contract,” Rosas, 18, said on Oct. 8. “I’ve been saying it since the beginning. I knew it was going to happen since I was born.”
Rosas (6-0) had finished all of his previous opponents before Tuesday night. The Mexican-born fighter, who trains out of Las Vegas, previously fought in the UWC promotion in Tijuana.
Dan Lauzon holds the record as the youngest fighter to compete in the UFC (18 years, 198 days), according to ESPN Stats & Info. As long as Rosas steps into the Octagon within the next 216 days — a likely scenario — he will win that mark. And Rosas is talking about winning championships. Jon Jones was the youngest UFC champion in 2011 at the age of 23.
“Everyone shouldn’t be surprised,” Rosa said. “I’m the new king that I’m in here, so I’m coming for that belt. … I’m going to be the champion when I’m 20. I respect everybody, but when I’m going to be the champion, I’m going to be 20 or sooner. No one is going to stop me.