The Ultimate Fighter 28 just wrapped up and heavyweight Juan Espino was crowned the winner.
Espino’s road to the UFC has been a long one. In Spain, where he was born, MMA is not a sport that many people partake in. Instead, most play soccer. However, Espino was unlike most of his peers and he chased his dream of being a professional fighter.
Now that he’s made it to the UFC, Juan Espino is hoping to set an example for other Spanish UFC hopefuls. He’s forged a path, and he’s hoping they’ll follow in his footsteps.
“I am very happy and I want to represent my country in the best way,” Espino said to BJPENN.com. “Both within the Octagon and outside.”
Espino says he is a better fighter now, since leaving The Ultimate Fighter house. A big part of why he won the show is because of his wrestling and ground game. In the Finale, he submitted Frazier as mentioned, and his high level grappling is a tool he is looking to use inside the Octagon.
“It is an interesting fact which I am going to try to take advantage of,” Espino said. “It’s a very interesting division where a blow changes everything. But I think I can have my space to win some matches.”
Espino also feels that he can climb the heavyweight rankings quite quickly.
“In the heavyweight division, winning fights is not very difficult,” Espino said. “As well as climbing the rankings. I have nine fights in a year and a half and I won all with superiority. Let’s see what I’m capable of.”
Although Espino believes he can make a run to an eventual title shot, he’s in no huge rush. After competing on TUF, where he had three fights in a matter of a couple months, he now just wants to rest his body.
“I hope to fight soon but first I want to recover from my injuries,” he said. “I was training all year long at a very high level, but [I’m] very mentally motivated.”
In the wake of his TUF victory, many fans have pointed out that Juan Espino is getting up there in years, as he is already 38 years old. Yet he doesn’t see this as much of an issue.
“Was I too old to enter the TUF house? It is true that I would be better much younger,” he added. “I have a lot of experience and I’m pretty good with injuries and motivation.”
No matter his age, Espino won TUF 28 fair and square. He’s earned his UFC contract, and is ready to start making some noise in the heavyweight division. But don’t expect him to be calling out opponents any time soon.
“Right now it’s time to enjoy the victory and calmly asses the next step,” Espino said.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 12/4/2018.