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UFC Signs Ten Mexican Fighters to Developmental Deals
- Updated: February 20, 2013
In an earlier article, I mentioned an interview where UFC’s Victor Davila mentioned how they were having a try-out (“casting call”) in Mexico. It looks like this is what has come out of this:
DW mentioned Mexico during today’s scrum. I’m told UFC recently signed 10 Mexican fighters to developmental deals. Will train at Jackson’s.
— Josh Gross (@JoshGrossESPN) February 13, 2013
This goes back to a “parallel Americas” theory that was discussed in the Washington Post in regards to the death of Jenni Rivera:
Rivera’s life and death suggest once again that it’s possible to live in parallel Americas, with the larger part only dimly aware of the enormous things happening in the other one. For all our instant connectivity, it’s possible for someone to be hugely famous and perfectly obscure — all at the same time.
Mexican Americans are the largest subgroup of Hispanics in this increasingly Hispanic nation — some 12 million in all, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Indeed, says Mark Hugo Lopez, the center’s associate director, Mexican-born immigrants to the United States constitute the largest group of immigrants in any nation.
I think people sometimes forget just how certain athletes or entertainers can be draws to certain people while at the same time being invisible from a mainstream American perspective. In 1994, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair were more “relevant” to mainstream “Americans” than Perro Aguayo Sr. Yet, Aguayo outdrew both Flair and Hogan in America within that exact same time frame. Also, AAA (lucha libre promotion) was doing excellent numbers in America that same year. From the January 2, 1995 issue of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
[Who would have thought] that WCW would promote a Hogan vs Flair career vs career match, but they would also be promoting a show [When Worlds Collide] two weeks later headlined by Perro Aguayo that would draw a bigger house.
The UFC is astutely aware at how Hispanic fans have helped boxing through the past decades. Also, with the growth of this demographic in America, it makes a lot of sense for the UFC to be interested in signing Mexican fighters. Some of the biggest boxing nights of the year take place on the weekends of Cinco De Mayo and September 16th. UFC’s been wanting to have fighters that can capture that magic that we see in boxing. This is anecdotal, but from conversations I’ve had with 60 and 70-year-old men and women in the Valley, a large percentage of them are genuinely fond of Canelo and Juan Manuel Marquez. They also think Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is an idiot. Will we ever see a significant amount of old Mexican-American men and women having the same, emotional connection towards a UFC star?
UFC has Cain Velasquez as the heavyweight champion and Erik “El Goyito” Perez as an up-and-coming prospect. ESPN Deportes just made this charming video feature on Erik “El Goyito” Perez that uses lyrics from the prolific ranchera songwriter Jose Alfredo Jimenez. Velasquez es “un punto de lanza” (to steal Davila’s phrase) , the guy who has led the way at this point. As much as I love Velasquez (and I do love the guy), I’m not sure if he’s the one that can become that transcendental figure for Latinos and MMA. I would love to be proven wrong though and to his credit, he’s already become a big star.
With trainer Mike Valle and “El Goyito” at Greg Jackson’s gym, I’m not surprised that the ten developmental fighters from Mexico were signed there. We’re just going to have to wait and see if anyone will emerge out of these ten fighters or if the signings will prove to be a bust. UFC once had hoped Roger Huerta would be that “great brown hope”, but we all know what happened there.