By Caoilte de Barra
On Tuesday, September 20, 2019 Youth World Champion Raul Rosas Jr. made history by becoming the youngest signed fighter in UFC history. Competing on Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS), he faced Mando Gutierrez in a bantamweight match-up.
In order to compete, Rosas Jr. needed a special license from the athletic commission with parental permission since he is a minor.
The 17-year-old has shot through the pro ranks since turning pro late last year. Ahead of his DWCS debut, he had finished all of his opponents to date. His debut raised eyebrows given his age, but once he entered the cage, it was clear why the UFC were keen to have him feature on the show.
Up against an undefeated prospect eight years his elder, Rosas Jr. came out and set a very high pace that continued for the duration of the bout. His grappling gave him the edge in the bout as he dominated en route to victory.
His creativity was superb, and he was constantly looking to finish the bout and threaten with submissions, even attempting a suloev stretch on a couple of occasions. Not to mention the fact he threw a flying knee feint into a takedown that got fans talking. His performance was enough to earn a contract from Dana White, with the UFC President stating how he was blown away by Rosas Jr.
“Both guys pushed themselves as hard as they could. And for a 17-year-old to conduct himself the way he did in this fight, I was blown away by it. Blown away.”
“I’m very, very impressed with this kid. He’s absolutely special. The amount of fighters that were blowing me up going, ‘Oh my God. This kid is for real. This kid is legit. Impressive.’”
Prior to his pro days, Raul Rosas Jr. competed in the 2019 Youth World Championships on the United States team, and the signs of something special were there then when he took gold.
Rosas Jr. will now enter the bantamweight ranks in the UFC, and he wants to waste no time in his hunt for gold, vowing to become the youngest champion in UFC history.