17-year-old Raul Rosas Jr. details beating up grown men, acquiring special license to compete for UFC contract as a minor

·4 min read

Raul Rosas Jr. is just old enough to have his driver’s license and can’t legally drink alcohol yet. One thing he can legally do, however, is fight a grown man inside an MMA cage.

The opportunity is unique and unheard of for someone 17 years old. It could be the first of many to change his life. But it’s not foreign to Rosas. He’s bodied grown men for as long as physically possible – in fact, perhaps even longer. He rewrote the unofficial rulebook in Mexico as to what’s possible for a “kid” to achieve inside an MMA cage.

“I was 15 when I started my amateur career,” Rosas recently told MMA Junkie. “… Since it was an Indian area, it was mostly up to the promoter. We ended up convincing him and he ended up giving me the opportunity to fight on his card. I had one fight when I was 15 and then my other amateur fight I was 16. Then, I made my pro debut when I was 17. … I fought people who were in their 30s. The oldest fighter I fought was 33 or 34. The youngest one was like 25 or 26.”

Rosas and his circle had to jump through hoops to get government officials to verbally approve of it. He needed to request a special license with parental and sponsor permission.

“The commission already approved it. I already did all the paperwork. All I had to do was a notary. My friend signed it. That’s the only thing that I had to do. Jason House did all the rest. I think he sent film to the commission and said why I’m ready to compete at this level and the commission approved.”

The license is still not officially on the record, though that’s expected to come Tuesday at a Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) meeting tomorrow, mere hours before he fights on Dana White’s Contender Series against Mando Gutierrez (7-1).

Since he turned pro, Rosas has compiled a 5-0 record. While initially there was hesitation to book him due to his age, the doubt diminished win after win. When he turned his attention to U.S. competition, however, it returned full force in the court of public opinion – perhaps stronger than ever.

Critics, Rosas said, don’t fully understand that he is not a typical 17-year-old.

“Those people don’t know much about fighting in my opinion,” Rosas said. “They just see a 17-year-old. They’re just like, ‘Oh, a 17-year-old.’ They think I’m a normal kid who’s 17 years old. I’m a different kind of 17-year-old. When they were at parties, when they were at summer vacation, I was at the gym, working my ass off. Since I was little, I knew what I wanted. I know what I want and I’m going to get out there and get it. To all those haters, I don’t really care. They can say whatever they want.”

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There will always be critics, admitted Rosas. His goal is just to build up supporters to cast a bigger and bigger shadow over the doubt.

“Say I become a UFC champion. The critics are still going to come,” Rosas said. “But the thing is if I was 25 years old right now and everything stayed the same, same strength, same skillset, same record, same finishes, everything, and I was in the same position but 25 years old, people would’ve looked at it different. But it doesn’t really matter. I don’t really care about their opinions. I do what I do best. I’m just going to get out there and get my contract.”

The fact a 17-year-old is fighting a grown man for a UFC contract is eye-catching to the outside observer. For Rosas, potentially being further ahead of schedule than anyone ever is most of a representation of high aspirations – championship aspirations.

“It would mean a lot to me,” Rosas said. “I will change my family’s life. I’ll change my life. It would just mean a lot to me. Like I said, I’ll be happy but not satisfied. The goal is that UFC title and to become the youngest UFC champion. I just want that contract to be able to get a step closer to my dream.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie