A look at the UFC’s youngest star – Raul Rosas Jr

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While the headlines this week heading into UFC 287 will undoubtedly be about Israel Adesanya, Alex Pereira, Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal, there is another fighter on the card who people should be keeping an eye out for. 

At 18 years old Raul Rosas Jr is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster and after picking up a victory in his last fight he is also the youngest winner of a UFC bout. The bantamweight has already managed to fit 7 fights into his professional career after making his pro debut back in November 2021.

2022 saw him fight an unprecedented six times, with him fighting once a month from March to June and then being invited to Dana White’s contender series in September. A win over Mando Guiterrez saw him fight on UFC 282 in December where he would pick up a first round submission win over a far more experienced opponent, over 10 years his senior. Let that sink in, in the space of 13 months Rosas Jr went from making his debut fight to being 7-0 and winning a fight in the UFC, all well before his 19th birthday.

His career so far has truly been remarkable. Rosas himself does not wish the momentum to slow down anytime soon stating “I don’t know what the plan is but I hope they’re trying to fast track me, because I’m ready”. He believes that he is more than capable of picking up a win against Aljamain Sterling or whoever will be holding the belt by the time he is in a title shot position. While the UFC may want to take their time and allow the 18 year old to develop more it is clear that Rosas feels he could fight for the title tomorrow. 

Despite the UFC possibly wanting to take their time with Rosas and not feed him to the big dogs too early, it is impossible to avoid facing talent when fighting with the most prestigious MMA organisation on the planet. This is evidenced in Rosas’s next opponent, Christian Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a young bantamweight (though at 25 practically a pensioner compared to Rosas) who comes from Duke Roufus’ academy and holds a record of 8 wins and 1 loss. Rodriguez has fought twice in the UFC going 1-1 with the promotion with his most recent bout resulting in a win via 1st round submission.

His trainer, Duke Roufus has warned fans not to think of Rodriguez as just another name used to build up the hype for Rosas Jr. Roufus stated that Rodriguez brings 11 years of experience into this fight, training with him since he was 14 years old and that he is following in the footsteps of a line of Roufus’s teenage prodigies that include current Bellator champion Sergio Pettis as well as former two time UFC women’s strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. Based on his record and pedigree it is clear that Rodriguez is a skilled fighter and will be looking to derail the Rosas Jr hype train before it reaches top speed. 

Rosas has stated that he wants to become the youngest UFC fighter to win a title and if he continues the trajectory, he is on track to beat the current record held by Jon Jones. Jones won the belt at the age of 23 with a victory over Shogun Rua at UFC 128. Rosas is in with a real shot of breaking this record and has over 5 years to at least equal it. If he manages to pick up the victory over Rodriguez he will be riding a two fight winning streak in the organisation and surely only be a fight or two away from going up against a ranked opponent.

At only 18 with the world at his feet, the sky is truly the limit for Raul Rosas Jr.

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