Technically National Hispanic Heritage Month is over but that doesn’t mean that the Hispanic fighters in MMA can’t still be honored. This list will have all the major Hispanics in MMA that have had success on the main stage. With that here we go with the top 10 of the past year:
10) Yair Rodriguez
Yair Rodriguez is a member of the inaugural task of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America for Team Mexico. That being said to mainstream fighters he is a relative unknown. The reason why he made the list is because he is the first member of the cast to make the finals. Not only that but he made it in impressive fashion with two submissions in the quarterfinals and semifinals. UFC 180 will tell though if he becomes the first featherweight Latin American Ultimate Fighter.
9) Steve Garcia
Like the above mentioned Rodriguez, Steve Garcia is not that well known on the mainstream. However, he has had success in Bellator and is currently undefeated at 5-0. That cannot be ignored and he must be expected to continue to rise. Just the same his record lacks big name fighters. Under the new system we might be seeing him fight on the main card. As a rising star lookout on the bantamweight rankings.
8) Joey Beltran
It’s been quite a year for Joey Beltran. The “Mexicutioner” was cut from the UFC and then thrown into a pit with Quinton Jackson. He then fought Vladimir Matyushenko and won, thus earning a title shot against Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Emanuel Newton. He lost but is still at the top of Bellator’s light heavyweight division. Expect him to fight in some good match ups in the future.
7) Eddie Alvarez
Eddie Alvarez finally got something he’d been striving for in a while. Last year he fought Michael Chandler and took back the Bellator Lightweight Championship in a close battle. He was set to fight Chandler a third time, but a concussion stopped that from happening. Fortunately he was released from Bellator when Scott Coker realized Alvarez had ambitions elsewhere. Following the release, Alvarez signed with the UFC where he fought Donald Cerrone at UFC 178.
6) Tito Ortiz
After almost two years off, Tito Ortiz returned to action this time with Bellator. The UFC Hall of Famer was originally supposed to make his debut against Quinton Jackson, but a neck injury forced him out for a while. He finally made his promotional debut at Bellator 120, the inaugural pay-per-view against Alexander Shlemenko. It was expected that Ortiz would do good against Shlemenko who is a lighter middleweight, but it wasn’t expected how quickly he would submit Shlemenko. He will now face Stephen Bonnar at Bellator 131.
5) Nate Diaz
Like many on this list, Nate Diaz only fought once this past year. However, he won in fine fashion when he defeated Gray Maynard by technical knockout. Since then however, he’s been inactive due to just plane Diaz issues. Diaz will now be facing Rafael dos Anjos at UFC on Fox 13. Expect him to rise this next year.
4) Dominick Cruz
One fight back after almost three years away is what Dominick Cruz needed ton convince people that for him ring rust is not a factor. Cruz went into UFC 178 against Takeya Mizugaki with a lot of questions from his critics. Then he dispatched Mizugaki in a little over a minute in the first round. The win was so spectacular that Dana White said he earned the next title shot against TJ Dillashaw. We will now get to see who the true champion is.
3) Gilbert Melendez
Gilbert Melendez has had quite the year when it comes to MMA. First he was involved with MMA Freak’s Fight of the Year against Diego Sanchez about this same time last year. Then he was involved in a bit of contract negotiations before being picked to coach opposite Anthony Pettis for The Ultimate Fighter season 20. It maybe early in the competition but as of yet he has some good athletes who just haven’t gotten the breaks. His year isn’t over yet and he will be facing Pettis for both the coaches match and for the lightweight title.
2) Jessica Aguilar
If there is anyone who has been the most active and deserves this spot on the list it’s Jessica Aguilar. After signing with World Series of Fighting, Aguilar won the WSOF Women’s Strawweight Championship with a win against Alida Gray. She then defended her title against Emi Fujino. She hasn’t fought since due to a lack of competitors in the promotion. However, make no mistake she has certainly established herself.
1) Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez hasn’t been that active in the past year due to injury, but his only fight was impressive. In his only match, Velasquez fought Junior dos Santos for the third time and just plainly destroyed him. He then went onto coach the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. So far he has been pretty successful, having already guaranteed his team a finalist in both weight classes. Time will tell though if he can pull two winners though.
For last year’s Latin Heritage Month list which covered MMA overall, follow the link. Please feel free to leave a comment!