The truth about Puerto Rican fighters, is they exist. But they are harder to find due to various reasons. The MMA scene en La Isla del Encanto took a major hit during the pandemic. However even before that, Puerto Rican fighters have been spread out and forced to move away in order to learn from those in more developed areas.
Often, you see those fighters return back home with knowledge to help grow the next generation. Or they provide a path for other fighters to train stateside every now and then. Regardless, MMA is far underdeveloped than Boxing in Puerto Rico. There will come a point in time where we see a major surge in MMA. But that likely won’t happen until we see a champion from the island in a big-league promotion.
Back in 2019, we published a list with 7 Puerto Rican fighters. It remains one of the most read articles on The Scrap today, so people are hungry to learn more about active fighters. Whether they are born there, or fighters of Puerto Rican descent, we wanted to put this list of 8 more MMA fighters you should know about heading into the new year.
This may come as a surprise, but OKTAGON’s Jaime Cordero is indeed half Puerto Rican, representing the island out in Germany. Though he has a Puerto Rican flag emoji on his Instagram, the fact that he is Puerto Rican is currently nonexistent on the promotion’s website or any content pieces in MMA media. It’s rare to see our people in other parts of the world that are not the United States, but it’s amazing to see nonetheless and something we should highlight more.
Jaime’s father currently still lives in Caguas, where he visits every now and then. Though he understands the language more than he can speak it, he is one of few representing Puerto Rico in the biggest sports organization in European MMA.
Follow Jaime on Instagram: @jaime.cordero_
It’s crazy that we have never featured “The Lone Wolf” despite his success on the regional scene prior to going on TUF 31. Landon Quiñones recently made his UFC debut after his time on Team McGregor via The Ultimate Fighter. He’s a young, hungry prospect who proudly reps his people. He is one of the few fighters who consistently gives back to his people by teaching seminars in Puerto Rico and being involved in the regional MMA scene there.
Though he’s currently coming off a loss, the opportunity came on short notice against an experienced Nasrat Haqparast. So it’ll be interesting to see what a full camp does for the former Titan FC featherweight champion. He has a lot to prove in 2024, and we can’t wait see how his UFC career plays out.
Follow Landon on Instagram: @lonewolf__145
Trained in Boxing by his mother while growing up in Puerto Rico, “The Taino Warrior” has been making noise on the regional scene under Cage Fury Fighting Championship since turning pro in 2019. He is a member of the rapidly expanding Daniel Gracie Team, and is often seen alongside the likes of UFC fighters Sean Brady and Andre Petroski.
Eddy Torres returns in December at CFFC 182, where he looks to build up some momentum following his first MMA loss nearly a year ago. And it looks like his ascent to the top of the CFFC lightweight division starts in Atlantic City. Eddy is flashy, fun, and everything MMA fans would love. 2024 should be a big year for him and the fighters in his gym, Team Taino Martial Arts & Fitness.
Follow Eddy on Instagram: @therealtainowarrior
We’ve featured Christian Esquilin on our Homeland Prospects series in 2021, and since then, he has only gotten better. Though “The Glorious” has made it clear to us in the past that his goal is to be the best fighter to step foot on this planet; we can’t help but highlight the amateur star prospect as he racks up regional belts and takes chances most don’t like fighting in the BKFC Prospect Series.
Christian reps the Puerto Rican flag to the absolute fullest. Don’t believe me? Just check his Instagram. He’s currently 7-0 as an amateur and absolutely one to keep an eye on in 2024. What’s even better, is he knows the weight he carries to put Puerto Rico on his back going into battle. It reminds him that what he’s working for goes far beyond himself…
Follow Christian on Instagram: @thegloriouspr
Remember the name Gus Villamil. He has all the makings to be the next massive Puerto Rican star in MMA. He already carries himself as such, and that’s important. A member of the highly touted Goat Shed, Gus has been making waves under the Titan FC banner since he turned pro in 2020. He recently submitted Rashaad Robinson in the first round at Action Fight League.
Now 6-2 and with Puerto Rico strapped on his back, a call-up to the big leagues seems inevitable in 2024. Maybe even the Contender Series next summer? Regardless of his next moves, Gus is must-see TV. He proudly wears the Puerto Rican flag every fight and makes time to give back to his people by teaching MMA seminars when he’s there. At just 28 years old, the future is brighter than ever as we head into the new year. Flyweights, beware.
Follow Gus on Instagram: @gusvillamil
Brandon Lopez is one of those fighters who actually lives by the “anytime, anywhere” mentality. He’s a fighter who has struggled to find opponents due to his experience and durability. Because of that, he’s a true company man and has fought at various weights, including several catchweights throughout his professional career.
Lopez currently fights out of Tampa, Florida, bringing big crowds when CFFC is in town. He has a large following on social media and puts on fun fights every single time. If you can look past his Tapology record, he’s certainly one to watch in 2024. We expect to see more entertaining scraps, more Ws, and maybe even a title shot next year? We’ll see…
Follow Brandon on Instagram: @brandonlopezmma
Though he’s very early in is professional career, Adrian Soto-Perez is one of those fighters that when you watch him… You now there’s something special there. Anthony Pettis realized that right away and signed him to the Showtime Group. He had Adrian debut this year at Anthony Pettis FC 6 where he picked up a unanimous decision win. Prior to turning pro, he went 6-2 as an amateur.
In his most recent bout, Adrian decided to box and knocked MarQuevion Ricks out in 1:31 of Round 1. At only 28-years-old, Soto-Perez has a bright career ahead of him, regardless of the sport he chooses. You’re missing out if you choose not to follow him and his next steps.
Follow Adrian on Instagram: @salvajeasp
There are not many Puerto Ricans out in Colorado, but two of them are a part of this article. The writer, Joey Torres, and Victory MMA’s Carlos Rivera. Trained by The Ultimate Fighter alum, Gilbert Smith, Rivera is currently on a 6-fight win streak. He recently turned pro in 2022 and is coming off the biggest win of his career thus far at LFA 170 with a second-round submission.
Though his professional career is just getting started, there are a lot of fun fights awaiting the prospect in LFA next year. If you’re not already following Rivera, just don’t be too late to jump on the hype train. 2024 should be a big year for the 27-year-old.
Follow Carlos on Instagram: @rivera_mma95