On Saturday night, in his hometown of Milwaukee during UFC 164, Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis captured the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title in a smashing defeat of former champion Benson Henderson. Pettis’ win means Latinos now hold a stunning half of the UFC’s gold, with the following titleholders:

Bantamweight: Dominick Cruz
Featherweight: Jose Aldo
Lightweight: Anthony Pettis
Heavyweight: Cain Velasquez

Pettis, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, has previously noted his grandfather anglicized the family surname of ‘Perez’ to ‘Pettis.’ During Saturday’s post fight press conference, he also praised the sacrifices his mother made in order to put her three sons through Catholic school, an experience familiar to working-class Hispanic families.

Considering the heavy dose of Latino fighters and title-holders within the UFC, and Latinos’ traditional attraction to combat arts, the sport is well positioned to make tremendous inroads in Latin America in the next few years.

- A.J. Delgado

With Anderson Silva looking to reclaim his middleweight belt this December, with Carlos Condit once again on the heels of the welterweight title, and with Joseph Benavidez as the flyweights’ top contender, Latinos are poised to capture even more UFC gold. As mixed martial arts’ popularity explodes in Latin America and amongst Latinos in the U.S., Latino stars in the UFC surely will not hurt the company’s appeal in this burgeoning market nor the market’s continuous draw to the sport.

Latinos’ fondness for mixed martial arts has not gone unnoticed. A recent Daily Show segment with Al Madrigal jokingly noted that, while the interests of Latinos in the U.S. mirror those of other Americans, they do have an additional, unique interest: “pigeon racing” and “Ultimate Fighting.” And the UFC itself is working on hosting its first card in Mexico (as UFC President Dana White recently noted to this writer via Twitter), possibly next year, as well as producing a season of the popular The Ultimate Fighter (“TUF”) series in Mexico City, entitled TUF: Latin America – in Spanish and featuring fighters from a variety of Latin American countries.

In addition to the top-ranked Latino stars, many Latino fighters are found across the UFC’s ranks. Mexican-born Erik “El Goyito” Perez, despite a split-decision loss at UFC 164, continues a rapid rise and an impressive 3-1 UFC record.

Considering the heavy dose of Latino fighters and title-holders within the UFC, and Latinos’ traditional attraction to combat arts, the sport is well positioned to make tremendous inroads in Latin America in the next few years.

Latino audiences certainly won’t mind one bit.

A. J. Delgado is a graduate of Harvard Law School who writes about conservative politics and pop culture. You may find her on Twitter at @missADelgado

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