The sweet story behind Marcelo Rojo’s viral velociraptor celebration

Danny Segura
·4 min read

Although Marcelo Rojo might be a new face to the UFC, many fans might already be familiar with the Argentine fighter.

Rojo (16-6 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his highly anticipated UFC debut Saturday in Las Vegas at UFC Fight Night 187. The 32-year-old takes on Charles Jourdain (10-3-1 MMA, 1-2-1 UFC) in a featherweight contest. “Pitbull” is no rookie to MMA and enters the UFC with a reputation.

Rojo makes his UFC debut with more than 20 fights under his belt, having competed in “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3,” and having built an impressive highlight reel in Combate Americas – establishing himself as one of the biggest names in that promotion.

But apart from all the accomplishments and experience, Rojo also has made the rounds online with several post-fight celebrations running around the cage pretending to be a dinosaur – a velociraptor to be exact.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Although it may seen like a goofy, funny celebration, the raptor moves have a deeper meaning for Rojo – a meaning only the closest to him know.

“When I was a kid, I used to do it with my family and my friends in Argentina,” Rojo told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I don’t have any brothers, but I have a bunch of cousins and we were once watching ‘Jurassic Park’ and we would laugh and play based on the movie. And because I would do (the dinosaur re-enactment) so well, it stuck.”

Rojo’s raptor impression didn’t just remain a thing of his childhood. The Argentine kept doing it all the way through college and beyond.

“I would do it in high school with my friends to make them laugh and later when I was in college, too,” Rojo said. “We would go partying, we’d be all drunk, and I’d do that on the street just being stupid to laugh and have a good time. I’m a person that always likes to make people laugh.”

Related

Marcelo Rojo proud to make UFC debut: 'For the Latino fighter, it's a much more difficult achievement'

After getting eliminated in the semifinals of Season 3 of “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America,” Rojo moved to Mexico to train at Entram Gym in Tijuana. It was a decision based on hoping to elevate his MMA game, but one that required him to leave his friends and family behind in Argentina.

Shortly after, Rojo signed with Combate Americas, where he exposed the world to his raptor celebration.

“When I moved to Mexico, it had been like two years since I hadn’t seen my family or my cousins, so I knew whenever I did that, they were going to go crazy – all my friends and everyone that knows me,” Rojo said. “I knew they were going to enjoy it. Many people say, ‘Oh what a cringe,’ but people talk to talk, just to comment and be offensive. People love that.

“I don’t care about what they say. I did it for my family and friends. When the fight finished, it was a success. Everyone was calling me and telling me I’m a genius, that they loved it, and that they were laughing so hard. You can just imagine all that. I’m happy being silly and doing all that. I love it.”

Saturday’s fight against Jourdain is arguably the biggest fight of Rojo’s MMA career. It’s been a long road for him to get to the UFC, but he’s finally stepping in the octagon at UFC Fight Night 187. Rojo is excited for his UFC debut and likes the matchup with Jourdain, despite it being on short notice.

If victorious, Rojo can’t promise a raptor celebration since it’s something that only happens in the moment. Fans will have to tune in to see if it makes an appearance.

“Who knows? I don’t plan anything,” Rojo said. “I go in there, and in the moment, who knows what’s going to happen? Maybe I do it, or maybe something else comes out. Maybe I start dancing. I don’t know – I swear.”