Raul Rosas Jr. is the youngest fighter to compete in the UFC, the youngest fighter to win in the UFC, and if his projections are accurate, he’ll be the youngest UFC champion by a mile.
At UFC 282 in Las Vegas this past Saturday, Rosas wowed fans and fighters alike with a dominant first-round submission win of Jay Perrin to close out the evening’s preliminary card. The win came just two months after Rosas’ 18th birthday and three months after he earned a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series as a 17-year-old.
Rosas appeared on The MMA Hour following his successful debut and set his sights on the top of the bantamweight division, going as far as to say that he could beat UFC champion Aljamain Sterling right now and that their fight wouldn’t go to the judges.
“I don’t know what the plan is, but I hope they’re trying to fast track me because I’m ready,” Rosas said. “Like I said, if they offer me a fight for the UFC belt right now, I can not only go out there and win, but I can also finish whoever has the belt, which right now is Aljamain Sterling.
“That’s why my pro career, that’s what I’m saying, I didn’t take it slowly. I fought months back to back so I could be here. But if I knew that I wasn’t on the level, if I didn’t have nothing to offer to the table, I would have fought every four months, that way I could improve. The reason I’m fighting so actively — including the Dana White Contender Series not that long ago — I decided to make my UFC debut already because I’m ready for it all. If I knew I wasn’t on that level and I couldn’t hang with these fools — I’m not even looking at anybody, all I see is gold. If I know that I can’t be champion, I would slow down a little bit, but I know I can be champion right now if I was to fight for the belt right now. This is why I’m taking my career so quick, because I know I have everything to win that belt right now.”
Hearing such a claim from any fighter with just one UFC win to their name would be eye-opening enough, much less from a prospect like Rosas who isn’t old enough to legally drink nor rent a car. But Rosas has backed up his talk with action so far, fighting seven times since turning pro in November 2021 and finishing all but one of his opponents.
Rosas was asked to clarify if he really felt that he could defeat Sterling, and his confidence didn’t waver.
“Yes,” Rosas said. “I’m not saying stuff just to say it. Everything I say is true and people don’t believe in me, but I believe in myself and I’m just going out there and proving it.
“[A title fight is] probably not going to happen [next] because people don’t know if I can really do that, but I know I can, so I’m just being active and I’m going to finish everybody in an impressive way so I can really show everybody that I’m ready to go for that title.”
Should Rosas pull off the seemingly impossible and win a title within the next couple of years, he’ll easily beat the record for youngest UFC champion, currently held by former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who was 23 years and 242 days old when he won a belt off of Mauricio Rua at UFC 128 in March 2011.
Outside of competing for a championship, Rosas didn’t have a name in mind for his next fight, but he’s eager to fight a ranked opponent and prove that age is nothing but a number.
“I can definitely take a fight with a bantamweight top 15 and I promise I can finish,” Rosas said. “Not only go out there and win, also go out there and win impressively and make a statement.”