13 Amazing Mexican UFC Fighters: Warriors of the Octagon

Last update:
Mexican UFC Fighters

The UFC is widely recognized as the most popular mixed martial arts promotion in the world, with a roster of more than 951 active athletes from around the globe as of 2023.

Mexico is famous for being a country with a rich heritage in combat sports.

So what do you get when you combine the biggest global fight promotion with exciting fighters from a country with a tradition in fighting?

You get many great Mexican UFC fighters.

And that’s what we’re looking at today: the 13 best Mexican UFC fighters who have ever put down in the octagon. 

Let’s get started! Vamos!

What do we mean by “Mexican” in this article?

Mexican UFC Fighters

According to United Nations Population Prospects, Mexico’s estimated population in 2023 is 128,455,566.

But wait, there’s more! it’s also estimated that around 37 million people of Mexican descent live in the United States, and nearly 12 million of those folks were actually born in Mexico.

In this article, we’re looking at Mexican UFC fighters born in any of Mexico’s 32 states. We’re also including Mexican-born UFC fighters who live in Mexico or abroad. And we’re counting Mexican-American UFC fighters who were born in the United States but who proudly emphasize their Mexican heritage.

How Many Mexican UFC Fighters are in the UFC?

As of 2023, the UFC boasts 18 active Mexican UFC fighters born in the country. This includes both men and women Mexican fighters. 

But when it comes to UFC fighters of Mexican heritage, the number is much higher and includes some of the best American fighters in the promotion.

In this article, we include both Mexican UFC fighters born in Mexico as well as fighters of Mexican heritage.

And in case you’re wondering, female fighter Alexa Grasso is currently the one Mexican-born title holder. However, the fighters we’re profiling in today’s article show that Mexican fighters have held many titles across numerous weight divisions.

Who are the best Mexican UFC Fighters?

1. Yair Rodriguez

Born on October 6, 1992, in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, Rodríguez began his martial arts journey at an early age, mastering Taekwondo and later exploring kickboxing and various other disciplines.

In 2011, he entered the professional MMA scene, winning six of his first seven fights in Mexico.

But Rodríguez’s UFC breakthrough came in 2014 when he competed in The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America as part of Team Velasquez. He advanced to the finals with impressive victories over Humberto Brown and Rodolfo Rubio by submission. He then faced Leonardo Morales at UFC 180, securing the TUF: Latin America featherweight title with a unanimous decision win.

Continuing his ascent, Rodríguez embarked on a remarkable six-fight winning streak in the UFC. Notable triumphs against opponents like Charles Rosa, Andre Fili, Alex Caceres, B.J. Penn, and Chan Sung Jung showcased his dynamic fighting style and garnered him four performance bonuses and two Fight of the Night accolades.

However, it was his sensational knockout victory over “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung at UFC Fight Night 139 in 2018 that etched his name in MMA history. Rodríguez’s upward elbow in the final second of the fifth round remains one of the sport’s most unforgettable finishes.

Rodríguez has experienced some setbacks, including losses to Frankie Edgar at UFC 211 in 2017 and Max Holloway at UFC Fight Night 197 in 2021 as well as A no-contest against Jeremy Stephens due to an accidental eye poke.

Recently, Rodríguez rebounded with a submission win over Josh Emmett at UFC 284 in 2023. This led to a title shot against Alexander Volkanovski for the UFC featherweight championship at UFC 290 in July 2023, where he fell short, losing by TKO in the third round. As of July 12, 2023, he is ranked #2 in the UFC featherweight rankings.

His flashy and unpredictable strikes characterize Rodríguez’s fighting style. With a black belt in Taekwondo and a record of 15 wins, four losses, and one no-contest, the 30-year-old Rodríguez continues to build an impressive career as one of the best Mexican UFC fighters.

2. Cain Velasquez

Born in California to Mexican parents, Cain Valesquez carries a deep appreciation for his Mexican heritage and proudly displays a “Brown Pride” tattoo on his chest.

Before entering MMA, Cain excelled in wrestling and achieved two state titles in Arizona and a national championship in Iowa. His collegiate career at Arizona State University saw him placing 4th and 5th in the NCAA Division I championships.

In 2006, Cain began his journey in mixed martial arts at the American Kickboxing Academy under esteemed coaches such as Javier Mendez and Daniel Cormier. Making his UFC debut in 2008, he quickly ascended through the ranks, leveraging his relentless pressure and remarkable cardio.

Cain etched his name in history as the first Mexican-American UFC champion, securing the heavyweight belt by knocking out Brock Lesnar in the first round at UFC 121. Although he lost the title to Junior dos Santos in his initial defense, he recaptured it in a rematch, dominating dos Santos over five rounds.

His championship reign included a successful trilogy fight against dos Santos, but he ultimately surrendered the belt to Fabricio Werdum by submission in Mexico City.

After his loss to Werdum, he competed only four more times due to injuries with two victories and two defeats. His final bout in 2019 against Francis Ngannou ended abruptly due to a knee injury, resulting in a 26-second knockout.

Unfortunately, Cain Velasquez currently faces serious legal challenges, having been charged with attempted murder and gun assault. The charges stem from an alleged incident where he fired at a truck carrying an individual accused of molesting his 4-year-old son, inadvertently hitting the man’s father instead.

3. Brandon Moreno

Brandon Moreno is a former two-time UFC flyweight champion hailing from Tijuana, Mexico. From humble beginnings in Tijuana, Mexico, Moreno’s career is one of perseverance and determination.

Starting his MMA training at the age of 12 in an effort to lose weight, Moreno turned professional in 2011.

In 2016, Moreno joined The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions, a reality show featuring flyweight champions from across the globe. Despite a loss in his first fight on the show, he secured a UFC debut and stunned the audience by submitting Louis Smolka in the first round, earning a Performance of the Night bonus.

Moreno continued to impress in the UFC, securing victories over the likes of Dustin Ortiz, Ryan Benoit, and a draw against Askar Askarov. While experiencing setbacks against Sergio Pettis and Alexandre Pantoja, he was briefly released from the UFC in 2018, only to make a triumphant return after capturing the LFA flyweight title.

Moreno’s star shone brighter than ever during his second stint with the UFC, with four consecutive wins, including a TKO victory over Kai Kara-France and a unanimous decision against Jussier Formiga. His draw with Deiveson Figueiredo, the reigning flyweight champion, in a thrilling fight, was recognized as the Fight of the Year.

Moreno’s moment of glory came at UFC 263 when he defeated Figueiredo via rear-naked choke in the third round, making history as the first Mexican champion.

While Moreno successfully defended his title once against Figueiredo with a doctor’s stoppage due to an eye injury, he lost the belt in his second defense against Alexandre Pantoja in a closely contested split decision.

With a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and 11 submission wins to his name, he remains a force to be reckoned with in the UFC’s flyweight division, currently holding the #15 spot in the men’s pound-for-pound rankings.

Apart from his grit and talent, Moreno’s humility, charisma, and sense of humor add up to make him a fan favorite. He is known for his love of anime, video games, and piñatas.

4. Alexa Grasso

Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, Grasso has had an incredible journey to success in the UFC.  

Born on August 9, 1993, in Guadalajara, Mexico, Grasso commenced her professional MMA journey in 2012, swiftly accumulating an undefeated record of 5-0 within her home country.

In 2016, Grasso signed with the UFC, making her debut against Heather Jo Clark and winning via unanimous decision. Although she faced her first loss against Felice Herrig, she swiftly rebounded, securing a split decision victory over Randa Markos. A challenging encounter awaited her against Tatiana Suarez, a former Olympian wrestler, resulting in a submission defeat.

Undeterred, Grasso moved up to the flyweight division and began an amazing winning streak. She knocked out Maycee Barber, submitted Molly McCann and Lauren Murphy, and overcame Viviane Araujo on points.

And Grasso shocked the world in March 2023 by dethroning Valentina Shevchenko, the dominant champion who had successfully defended her belt seven times. Utilizing her superior boxing skills and speed, Grasso outstruck Shevchenko, and earned a decisive victory via unanimous decision.

Grasso is now gearing up for a highly anticipated rematch against Shevchenko which is scheduled for September 16, 2023, in Las Vegas. Appropriately, the fight coincides with the celebration of Mexican Independence Day.

Apart from fighting, Grasso also serves as a UFC analyst for Spanish broadcasts.

5. Henry Cejudo

Henry Cejudo, born in 1989 in the United States to Mexican immigrant parents who immigrated from Mexico, holds the unique distinction of being the sole individual to achieve Olympic gold in wrestling and a UFC championship title.

In July 2014, he signed with the UFC, facing Dustin Kimura in his UFC debut which he won by unanimous decision.

Cejudo continued his winning streak with victories over Chris Cariaso and Chico Camus. Cejudo was scheduled to fight Joseph Benavidez but instead faced Jussier Formiga, winning by split decision. Despite a boycott of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Cejudo challenged Demetrious Johnson for the UFC Flyweight Championship but lost by first-round TKO.

Cejudo participated in The Ultimate Fighter 24 as a coach and later faced Joseph Benavidez in a fight that went to a split decision, with Cejudo losing. He bounced back with wins against Wilson Reis and Sergio Pettis. In a highly anticipated rematch, Cejudo defeated Demetrious Johnson via split decision to become the UFC Flyweight Champion.

He successfully defended his title against T.J. Dillashaw, winning in just 32 seconds. Cejudo then moved to the bantamweight division and defeated Marlon Moraes to become the fourth fighter in UFC history to hold titles in two weight divisions simultaneously, after Conor McGregor.

After this fight, he announced his retirement as a double champion but returned to face Aljamain Sterling, losing by split decision.

6. Nate Diaz

Nate Diaz is a widely popular American UFC fighter of mixed Mexican and Anglo descent (Mexican father, English mother) who has earned a reputation as one of the toughest, baddest and most outspoken fighters in the game for more than 15 years.

Diaz initially made his mark in the WEC, where he fought for the lightweight title, ultimately falling short against Hermes Franca. However, his true breakthrough came when he transitioned to the UFC after securing victory in The Ultimate Fighter 5 by defeating Manvel Gamburyan in the finals.

With an impressive track record of 22 wins, 13 via submission, and 5 by knockout, Diaz has earned his place as a force to be reckoned with.

In the UFC, Diaz has had high-profile battles against some of the world’s most competitive fighters, Rafael dos Anjos, Donald Cerrone, and Jorge Masvidal. 

But no rivalry has been as captivating as his famous clashes with Connor McGregor. Diaz shocked the world by submitting the Irish fighter, but lost their second fight by contentious decision.

But apart from confronting opponents in and out of the ring, he’s also gone toe-to-toe with UFC President Dana White, regularly defying him and even landing one of his famous Stockton Slaps.

Diaz is also a fan favourite for his unfiltered outspokenness, unwavering confidence, and a staunch loyalty to his team, Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and his brother, Nick Diaz, another renowned MMA fighter in his own right.

Currently a free agent, Diaz has recently been associated with a potential boxing match against YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul. 

7. Kelvin Gastelum

Born on October 24, 1991, in San Jose, California to Mexican parents, Gastelum is another American-born fighter who proudly represents his Mexican heritage both in and out of the octagon.

Gastelum’s journey in mixed martial arts began at a young age when he started training in wrestling. His wrestling background has proven invaluable throughout his career, allowing him to control fights with his takedowns and ground game. However, what sets Gastelum apart is his ability to transition between striking and grappling techniques seamlessly.

Gastelum has a high pace fighting style and has faced some of the most amazing fighters in the UFC middleweight division. From victory against Uriah Hall during The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale to a memorable battle with Israel Adesanya for the interim middleweight championship, Gastelum has consistently showcased his versatility and determination inside the cage and built a significant fan base.

Offensive-minded yet defensively sound, Gastelum possesses excellent boxing skills that have helped him achieve notable wins against renowned fighters such as Michael Bisping and Ronaldo Souza. His quick footwork and powerful strikes make him a formidable opponent for anyone stepping into the octagon with him.

Kelvin Gastelum’s versatility as a middleweight fighter sets him apart from many other contenders in the division. His ability to adapt to different opponents speaks volumes about his skill set and determination.

8. Irene Aldana

Hailing from Sinaloa, Mexico, Aldana has quickly established herself as yet another one of Mexico’s best MMA fighters.

Although Irene Aldana began her MMA career with a loss in Jungle Fight, she quickly signed with Invicta FC and achieved success with wins over Peggy Morgan and Colleen Schneider. She then joined the UFC and had a Fight of the Night performance in her debut against Leslie Smith.

In the UFC, Aldana secured victories over Talita Bernardo, Lucie Pudilová, and Bethe Correia. She faced Raquel Pennington, Vanessa Melo, and Ketlen Vieira, winning by decision, and scored a knockout win against Yana Kunitskaya.

Aldana faced Holly Holm but had to withdraw due to testing positive for COVID-19. The rescheduled fight resulted in a loss by unanimous decision for Aldana but she rebounded with a TKO victory over Macy Chiasson.

Aldana had a scheduled rematch with Raquel Pennington, which was later replaced with a championship match against Amanda Nunes. She lost the bout via unanimous decision, but her performance earned her recognition as a headliner for the promotion and she remains a fighter to watch. 

9. Marco Polo Reyes

Born in Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico in 1984, Reyes was a national champion in the sport of MMA in Mexico before joining the UFC.

Early in his career, Reyes competed in various promotions in Mexico with a record of 4-3-0 before joining The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2. In the show, he won a lightweight fight via TKO in the second round but was defeated in the semi-final round.

In his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 78, Reyes knocked out Cesar Arzamendia with a single punch in the first round. He continued his success with a knockout victory over Dong Hyun Ma at UFC 199, earning Fight of the Night honors. Reyes then secured a split decision win against Jason Novelli at UFC Fight Night 98.

However, Reyes experienced setbacks with a first-round TKO loss to James Vick at UFC 211 and suffered back-to-back defeats against Damir Hadžović and Drew Dober. The UFC eventually released him in February 2020.

In his post-UFC career, Reyes won a first-round knockout victory over Ricardo Arreola and a unanimous decision against Marco Elpidio. However, he faced a first-round submission loss to Fernando Martinez at Lux 018.

10. Diego Sanchez

Diego Sanchez is a true warrior in the lightweight division of the UFC and an integral part of the MMA scene for over 15 years. His relentless fighting style and unwavering determination have earned him a loyal fan base and numerous accolades throughout his career.

Sanchez holds the record for the most “Fight of the Year” bouts in MMA, including memorable fights against Karo Parisyan, Clay Guida, BJ Penn and Gilbert Melendez.

Diego Sanchez had a successful early career in MMA, going undefeated with an 11-0 record before joining The Ultimate Fighter reality show. There he became the middleweight winner of the show’s first season, earning a contract with the UFC.

Sanchez then embarked on a career in the UFC welterweight division, where he had notable wins and engaged in exciting bouts, including a Fight of the Year against Clay Guida.

After a series of wins and losses in the welterweight division, Sanchez moved to lightweight. He had memorable fights against Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida, both of which won Fight of the Night honors and were considered among the year’s best fights. Sanchez also had a shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship against B.J. Penn but was defeated.

Sanchez later returned to the welterweight division and had mixed results, including wins against Martin Kampmann and losses to John Hathaway and Jake Ellenberger. He then made a return to the lightweight division, facing Takanori Gomi, Gilbert Melendez, and Myles Jury, among others. Sanchez had a controversial split decision win against Ross Pearson, where many media outlets scored the bout in favor of Pearson.

Sanchez also had a brief stint in the featherweight division before returning to lightweight. He had victories over Jim Miller and Marcin Held but suffered a TKO loss to Joe Lauzon. Sanchez had his last fight in the UFC against Michael Chiesa, which he lost via unanimous decision.

After parting ways with his controversial trainer, Sanchez joined Eagle Fighting Championship and made his debut against Kevin Lee. Despite some early success, Sanchez lost the fight by unanimous decision.

11. Tony Ferguson

Born on February 12, 1984, in California, and raised in Michigan, Ferguson is of proud Mexican heritage. 

Ferguson is a well-rounded fighter with a strong background in wrestling, a black belt in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu under Eddie Bravo, and extensive training in boxing, Muay Thai, and Wing Chun. 

His MMA career began in 2007 with fights in regional circuits throughout California, where he gained recognition by defeating kickboxing champion Joe Schilling. This was followed by his triumph on The Ultimate Fighter 13, which saw him earn a knockout victory against Ramsey Nijem in the finale, and paving his way into the UFC.

In June 2011, Ferguson made his official UFC debut, securing a TKO win over Aaron Riley.

Ferguson has cultivated an impressive record of 26 wins and 8 losses, featuring notable victories against formidable opponents such as Rafael dos Anjos, Kevin Lee, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, and Nate Diaz.

He also holds the record for the most consecutive wins in the UFC lightweight division with 12. In October 2017, Ferguson earned the Interim UFC Lightweight Championship by submitting Lee, but he was subsequently stripped of the title due to inactivity due to injury.

Ferguson’s performances have earned him numerous awards and bonuses, including Fight of the Night, Performance of the Night, Submission of the Night, and Knockout of the Night.

12. Erik Perez

Born on December 2, 1989, in Monterrey, Mexico, Perez began his journey into MMA at a young age, inspired by legendary martial artists like Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre. 

Érik Pérez started his UFC career in the Bantamweight division with a controversial armbar submission win over John Albert at The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale. Pérez followed this with a record-breaking win by knockout victory, defeating Ken Stone in just 17 seconds, setting the fastest bantamweight knockout in UFC history.

He continued his success with a TKO win over Byron Bloodworth and a unanimous decision victory against Edwin Figueroa. In the second round, Pérez faced Bryan Caraway in 2014 but lost via rear-naked choke submission. He was scheduled to fight Marcus Brimage in 2014 but had to withdraw due to a shoulder injury.

Pérez returned to the Octagon and defeated Taylor Lapilus via unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. He then engaged in a thrilling back-and-forth battle with Francisco Rivera at UFC 201, emerging victorious by unanimous decision. Pérez’s last fight in the UFC was against Felipe Arantes at The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 3 Finale, where he won a split decision.

After finishing his contract with the UFC, Pérez signed with Combate Americas in October 2017.

13. Dominick Cruz

Dominick Cruz is widely regarded as one of the greatest bantamweights of all time and is another example of an excellent UFC fighter of Mexican heritage.

Born in Tucson, Arizona, and raised by his Mexican mother, Cruz’s journey in combat sports began at a young age through his involvement in wrestling.

Cruz made his professional MMA debut in 2005, embarking on a winning streak that encompassed nine victories, including capturing the WEC Featherweight Championship. His streak was eventually halted by Urijah Faber in 2007.

Transitioning to the bantamweight division, Cruz embarked on an extraordinary 13-fight winning streak, attaining the WEC Bantamweight Championship and becoming the inaugural UFC Bantamweight Champion following the merger of the two promotions.

Cruz successfully defended his title on four occasions, securing victories over Faber in a rematch, Demetrious Johnson, Scott Jorgensen, and Takeya Mizugaki. Additionally, Cruz served as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Live opposite Faber

Unfortunately, Cruz faced a series of debilitating injuries that forced him out of competition for nearly four years. In 2014, he vacated his title due to a torn groin.

Making a triumphant return in 2016, Cruz reclaimed his championship by defeating TJ Dillashaw via split decision. He subsequently defended his title against Faber for the third time, emerging victorious through unanimous decision. However, his title reign was halted by Cody Garbrandt later in 2016, concluding his remarkable winning streak.

Following his loss to Garbrandt, Cruz faced further challenges due to injuries, leading him to assume roles as a UFC analyst and commentator. Nevertheless, he remains an indomitable force in the bantamweight division. Scheduled to face Pedro Munhoz at UFC 269 on December 11, 2021, Cruz is determined to add another chapter to his illustrious career. He currently holds the #9 ranking in the UFC bantamweight division.

Our Final Say on the Best Mexican UFC Fighters

Mexican UFC fighters have definitely had an impact on the MMA world through their successes in the UFC. From Cain Velasquez’s dominance in the heavyweight division to Yair Rodriguez’s exciting fighting style, these athletes have showcased their skills and abilities at the highest level.

Photo of author


We're a team of fight fans and martial arts practitioners. Many of us have been involved in martial arts our entire lives.