We’ve all heard he historic news from UFC President Dana White: the UFC will finally hold an event in Mexico and heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez is set to defend his title against #1 contender Fabricio Werdum at UFC 180 November 15 in Mexico City. Question is — will Mexicans grasp to mixed martial arts like Brazilians?
If you watched boxing growing up, you would know Mexicans have been a major part of the sport. The Mexican people have a certain pride when it comes to their countrymen duking it out in a square ring and they have seen their share of champions from Julio Cesar Chavez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez and so forth.
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In Brazil, Helio Gracie and his family began spreading Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after UFC 1, and their country latched on to MMA with several current UFC champions in Jose Aldo and Renan Barao, and former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva being one of the greatest to ever get in the Octagon.
Sure there are many Mexican-American’s in MMA, like Velasquez, Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Diego Sanchez, but there are only two UFC fighters (Erik Perez, Frank Trevino) that were born in Mexico.
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Before Velasquez and Werdum fight for the title, the two will be coaches on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. Mexico has been an untapped area for the UFC and now they will bring some major exposure to our southern neighbors, but will it be enough to get the people interested?
- Mexicans love striking, if they keep their standup solid, add in some kicks, this could interest some boxers to train Muay Thai/kickboxing as well.
- If some wrestling and jiu-jitsu schools were opened, that could lead to a quicker transition to MMA.
- We know Mexicans have a lot of heart and are passionate: with the UFC in their country, a few seminars by their countrymen and Mexican-Americans, could make a push for the fighters to take up MMA as opposed to boxing.
MMA in Mexico is not going to take place overnight, but with the UFC starting to focus some of their efforts down there and some help from the names in the sport, look for Mexico to start sending more fighters into the UFC.
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