Besides being in schools and other government institutions, the period of time from September 15th to October 15th isn’t something that’s widely discussed. However, it is this writers’ opinion that with the Hispanic demographic growing in MMA (and in this country in general) this is something that should be covered.
So with that, we are going to discuss the top 10 Hispanic Americans in MMA. Just to be clear, this list covers those of Latino decent so if someone’s ancestors didn’t speak Spanish, they don’t qualify for the list. Sorry all you Brazilian fans. So with that, here we go:
~ 10 ~
Hailing from Illinois, Clay “The Carpenter” Guida is known for his amazing cardio and fast pace. Nicknamed the Carpenter because of his early work in the profession, Guida made a name for himself as the first Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, while the promotion was still on the regional level.
Shortly after that he debuted in the UFC where he has won fight bonus awards a total of eight times. Many of those fights have also been named fights of the year by publications like FIGHT! Magazine and Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
While he is 1-3 in his last four fights we can only hope that he continues to deliver in the UFC and if not be picked up by another good promotion.
~ 9 ~
Originally born in Mexico, Efrain Escudero has excelled in MMA though he hasn’t fared as well as expected in the UFC. Escudero was at a perfect ten wins with no losses when he went onto season eight of The Ultimate Fighter and won the lightweight division. However, he went 3-2 in his first stint in the UFC and was subsequently released when he went 1-2 in his last three fights.
He then hit the regional circuit, fighting in Tachi Palace Fights and Bellator before his second stint in the UFC. Unfortunately he went 0-2 and went back onto the regional circuit, but is now getting a second chance with Bellator, and with a win will hopefully get a crack at a season 10 lightweight tournament.
~ 8 ~
Formerly known as “the Nightmare” and now known as “the Dream,” Diego Sanchez has made history in the sport.
The original TUF middleweight tournament winner, Sanchez has gone onto be competitive in two weight classes and fought for the title at lightweight against BJ Penn.
Before his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Sanchez was a King of the Cage Welterweight Champion. Since his time in the TUF house, Sanchez has gone 13-5 in the UFC and has won Fight of the Night honors five times.
Needless to say, it’s likely he’ll finish MMA in the UFC.
~ 7 ~
UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz has accomplished quite a bit in MMA. He has fought as high as lightweight and won championships in all three weight classes that he’s competed in. He was the last WEC Bantamweight Champion, taking the title from Brian Bowels and becoming the first UFC Bantamweight Champion when the WEC was merged with the UFC.
He was able to defend that title twice before he tore his ACL and has been out since October, 2011. We can only hope he will recover and return to the Octagon soon.
~ 6 ~
The first Bellator Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez originally hails from Philadelphia. Though he’s naturally a lightweight he has fought at welterweight and won the BodogFight Welterweight Championship before the promotion went under. He then fought in EliteXC and Dream before fighting for a lengthy amount of time in Bellator.
After loosing the lightweight title to Michael Chandler, he fought twice more, initially hoping to sign with the UFC before Bellator decided to block his UFC contract and match their offer.
After settling the dispute, he now comes back to the promotion to fight Chandler in a rematch at Bellator’s inaugural PPV event.
~ 5 ~
The Diaz Brothers
It is impossible not to put one brother and not the other on a list like this. Nick Diaz and Nate Diaz are known for their smack talking and their thug like behavior coming as a direct result of their growing up in the ghetto town of Stockton, California. However, that certainly hasn’t kept either brother from excelling in the sport.
Nick Diaz has won multiple championships and awards at welterweight since starting MMA in 2001. Nate Diaz has several accomplishments at lightweight including the TUF 5 Tournament title and ten total fight bonus awards.
~ 4 ~
A fellow Cesar Gracie teammate to the Diaz brothers, Gilbert Melendez was born in similar conditions to the Diaz’s in Santa Ana, California. He made a name for himself mainly in Strikeforce dating back to when it was a regional promotion and continuing into its’ mainstream success.
As their lightweight champion he set many records in the promotion, including the most championship bouts, most successful title defenses, most consecutive title defenses, most wins and most strikes landed. His success led to his immediate title shot with at the time UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson following Strikeforce’s merger into the UFC. We can only wish him well against Diego Sanchez at UFC 166.
~ 3 ~
There is a reason why this man is known as “the Huntington Beach Bad Boy.” Tito Ortiz was at one point the most dominant UFC Light Heavyweight Champion before his record five title defenses was tied by current champion Jon Jones.
While he was still initially competitive after loosing the title to fellow UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, Ortiz went into a 1-7-1 skid over the past seven years.
After that he initially went into retirement and got into fighter management with his highest profile client being dominant women’s featherweight fighter Cris “Cyborg” Justino. Now he’s coming out of retirement to fight former Team Punishment teammate Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 106.
~ 2 ~
Probably the biggest legend on the list, Frank Shamrock also has the oldest and probably most successful career on this list. Shamrock, originally born Frank Alisio Juarez III, fought considerably larger fighters at light heavyweight but was still able to make a name for himself as only one of four fighters in the UFC Light Heavyweight Division to defend the championship four or more times.
He also made a name for himself in Pancrease, the WEC and Strikeforce winning championships in both light heavyweight and middleweight. He officially announced his retirement in MMA on June 26, 2010. Since then he’s become a color commentator and coach for the inaugural season of Fight Master.
~ 1 ~
Cain Velasquez makes it on the top of this list not because of his MMA accomplishments but because he embodies what National Hispanic Heritage Month stands for. Each and every time he goes out into the Octagon he comes out to mariachi music and a Mexican flag around his fist.
He’s proud of his Mexican heritage and isn’t afraid to flaunt it. He also is a good representative in that he keeps his behavior in check and is a great champion for the sport. He’s also a very devoted father as a YouTube video shows him receiving a toy belt from his daughter.
How are you celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month? Please leave a comment to tell us how.