UFC Vegas 15 went down last Saturday night inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, which saw Anthony Smith snap his two-fight losing streak by submitting Devin Clark in the main event of the evening (see it again here).
While that win was impressive, the winner of the co-main event is who really caught Dana White’s attention. The UFC president couldn’t stop singing Miguel Baeza’s praises after he submitted Takashi Sato in round number two, which moved Baeza to 3-0 inside the Octagon, 10-0 overall in his career.
During the post-fight presser, White talked about Baeza’s win and his potential as a star for the promotion.
“He’s a bad boy. He looked awesome, man. He’s one of the guys we highlighted this week in ‘If you don’t know…’ and he came out and delivered tonight,” said White (via MMA Junkie).
What’s even more impressive is that “Caramel Thunder” has finished all three of his UFC foes — Matt Brown, Hector Aldana and Sato — in two rounds, giving him a total of eight finishes in 10 victories thus far. And if there’s one thing that Dana likes, it’s finishes.
That’s one of the reasons why the top MMA promoter in the game feels he has a star on his hands, and being Puerto Rican, White believes he can bring in whole new crop of fans after making the most of his unexpected co-headlining duties in “Sin City.”
“He had a primetime spot on ESPN and, in this business, what we do is we put together the platform for you to go out and show everybody who you are, and what you should do is go out and make people talk about you on Sunday and Monday. He did that tonight,” he said.
“He went out there and had a huge platform – we came out of the college football game tonight – so yeah, the kid’s a stud. 10-0, Puerto Rican. When New York opens up again, you know what I mean? Get him fighting in New York,” said White, who says plans are in motion to possibly stage a fight in Puerto Rico for the first time.
“I’ve been talking about Puerto Rico, too. We talked about going to Puerto Rico a long time ago, I talked about building a Performance Institute in Puerto Rico, so he could be the guy. … He could be our Puerto Rican star.”
Having the backing of the boss is always a good thing. Just ask Khamzat Chimaev.
Baeza has set himself up for stardom, but as we’ve seen in the past, there have been several fighters come out of the gate strong — catching White’s attention in the process — only to fall short of the expectations.
Cynthia Calvillo and Volkan Oezdemir are two names who come to mind.
And that’s not a knock on Calvillo or Oezdemir, they are talented fighters, but it just goes to show you how quickly White can fall out of love with a once-blossoming star. It also shows just how tough it is to consistently win under the UFC banner.
Do you think Baeza has what it takes to be a breakthrough UFC star?