3 Spanish UFC Fighters Still Active (& 4 Ex-UFC)

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Spanish fighters are slowly becoming more prominent in the UFC, and fight fans recognize the class these martial artists bring into the octagon.

I’ve prepared a quick list of the best current Spanish UFC fighters to give them the spotlight. Keep reading to find out the top names to watch right now.

Active Spanish UFC fighters

Let’s check out the top active UFC fighters from Spain first.

Ilia Topuria

Ilia Topuria also known as El Matador
See page for author, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ilia ‘El Matador’ Topuria is a German-born fighter. He moved to Spain after turning 15 and started his martial arts journey at the Climent Club. 

Topuria is known as a fight finisher. He can submit and shut the lights out on his opponents.

At the age of 18, he entered the world of professional fighting. He went undefeated on local promotions, with almost every win coming from a first-round finish.

Topuria entered the UFC in 2020 and fought Youssef Zalal. Ilia suffered a striking disadvantage, so he put the fight to the ground.

Ilia converted 5 out of 9 attempted takedowns. This helped him snatch the unanimous decision win.

More recently, Topuria has been having plenty of trash-talking with Paddy Pimblett and secured a unanimous victory against the up-and-coming wrestling powerhouse Bryce Mitchell.

Soon to face Alexander Volkanovski for the belt thanks to his excellent performances and more-than-heavy-enough hands.

Joel Alvarez

Joel Alvarez posing in the boxing ring
Jprietf, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Joel “El Fenomeno” Alvarez was born in Gijón, Spain. He started training in MMA when he was 18 at Gijón’s local gym.

Alvarez is a beast on the ground. More than 50% of his wins came from a submission. But he can also swing hands with a couple of KO wins under his record.

One of Joel’s most impressive victories is against Danilo Belluardo. Alvarez finished that fight with a series of slick ground and pound to force a KO/TKO victory.

Some other fighters that Alvarez finished are Joe Duffy, Alexander Yakovlev, and Thiago Moises.

Daniel Barez

Barez is a newer addition to the UFC roster who came from Dana White’s Contender Series (TV show), unfortunately, he lost his debut UFC fight back in July 2023 against Jafel Filho.

Nevertheless, he currently remains on the roster and we may see him in an upcoming preliminary card once more.

Inactive or retired Spanish UFC fighters

These are fighters from Spain who were once on the roster but no more!

Juan Espino

Juan Espino in Canarian wrestling outfit
Pierre-Yves Beaudouin / Wikimedia Commons

Juan ‘El Guapo’ Espino is a Heavyweight fighter from Gran Canaria, Spain, who trains with American Top Team. He is known for his world-class wrestling and submission game. 

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Before MMA, Espino trained in Canarian wrestling. Juan was a puntal A in Canarian wrestling which is the highest rank of the combat sport. 

Espino participated in various world grappling championship events. In these events, he consistently earned a podium finish.

El Guapo won his UFC debut against Justin Frazier. He finished the fight late in round 1 with a textbook Armbar finish.

Juan holds a rare finish record in the UFC: he secured a Scarf Hold submission over Jeff Hughes.

Yan Cabral

Yan has been out of action in the UFC since two straight losses in 2015 and then 2016 which saw him leave the promotion.

Jay Cucciniello

Jay had one fight against The Ultimate Fighter winner, Brad Katona, back in 2018 and lost seeing him leave the UFC immediately.

Abner Lloveras

“Skullman” Lloveras was another Spanish fighter who had a short breath in the UFC with a loss to Kurisu Kuretsutsuemaka in 2015.

Why are there so few Spanish UFC fighters?

There are few UFC fighters from Spain because they focus on other sports. The Spanish people have their focus on more popular sports in that country. These are Football, Basketball, Cycling, and more non-combat sports. 

It’s not that Spain is not fond of fighting; MMA hasn’t blossomed in the country compared to the USA.

Spain has few MMA-focused gyms compared to other countries which forces the barrier to entry much higher since Spaniards must often travel abroad to secure regular training and expertise.

Despite having some local MMA gyms, more are needed to produce high-level UFC fighters. 

Every fighter above started training locally before the US to prepare in bigger gyms to improve their abilities and create more competitive opportunities. 

So even though young Spanish fighters train MMA at their local gyms, entering the UFC is impossible if they don’t have the budget to get to the USA, get their talents on display, and make a bigger name for themselves.

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