You can count UFC President Dana White among the multitudinous new admirers of Puerto Rican welterweight prospect Miguel Baeza.
Baeza returned to the Octagon in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 15 last weekend, defeating hard-nosed Japanese star Takashi Sato by submission. With the win, which broadcasted on ESPN, the 28-year-old improved to an impressive 10-0 overall, and gave the impression that he could become a big star in the near future.
White, who has an undeniable eye for talent, certainly seems to think so.
“He’s a bad boy,” White said of Baeza at the UFC Vegas 15 post-fight press conference (via MMA Junkie). “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.”
Baeza is now 3-0 in the UFC, with finishes over Sato, Matt Brown, and Hector Aldana. White sees significant upside for the telegenic Puerto Rican, not just in markets with large Puerto Rican populations like New York City, but in the territory itself, where the UFC has long sought to develop a foothold.
“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,” White said of Baeza. “He did that tonight.”
“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,” White added, forecasting big things for Baeza. “10-0, Puerto Rican. When New York opens up again, you know what I mean? Get him fighting in New York.
“I’ve been talking about Puerto Rico, too,” White continued. “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.”
What do you think the future holds for Miguel Baeza after UFC Vegas 15? Do you share Dana White’s optimism?