UFC 253 Prelim Breakout Star: Juan Espino

UFC 253 Prelim Breakout Star: Juan Espino


UFC 253 Prelim Breakout Star: Juan Espino


Nov 30, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Juan Espino (red) reacts after defeating Justin Frazier (not seen) during a heavyweight bout at The Pearl. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented fighter on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.

Back in the day, we used to get hype on TUF winners. Heck, we used to get hype on TUF contestants period. Times have changed though, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be excited about this one.

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Juan Espino

Affiliation – American Top Team
Nickname – El Guapo
From – Las Palmas, Canary Islands
Height – 6’4″
Weight – 260 lbs (Heavyweight)
Record – 9-1 (1-0 UFC)


What makes him impressive

A scan of his record would show you that he clearly has submission skills, but that perfunctory look wouldn’t do justice to the skills he has. Espino is absolutely suffocating when on top of his opponent. He may not always be actively pursuing a submission, but he’s constantly forcing his opponents into bad places and forcing them to make bad decisions. Add this into the Canary Island standard of wrestling which involves lots of takedowns, and he’s going to be a tough matchup for a lot of heavyweights.


Why he has been overlooked

Nearly 40-years old, only 10 pro fights, a two-year layoff – I mean, take your pick. There’s a lot of alarms for why Espino may not be the real deal. However, when he’s in action, he is quite impressive. Also, with being in the heavyweight division, his clock has a bit more time on it than most men his age. Of course the injury layoff should worry anybody – let’s all hope he’s back to his old self.


What makes this a good match-up

If you look back at Jeff Hughes’s time on the regional circuit, he uses his wrestling quite a bit to outwork and tire out his opponents. Despite his size, he has a reasonably solid gas tank and the ability to chain wrestling together – which was particularly on display in the Todd Duffee fight. However, those being his primary strengths is not a good sign against Espino, who would appear to have an advantage in each of those areas. I don’t believe Hughes can out-wrestle or outlast Espino, which leaves him with few ways to get it done.


Prelim Breakout Star Record: 203-90-1 (2 NC) (10 DNF)

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