Are you wondering who the best Spanish UFC fighters are?
In this article, we’ll list the best Spanish UFC fighters and go through their background, records, credentials, skills, and who they competed against.
Best Spanish UFC Fighters
Here are the best Spanish UFC fighters, ranked in order starting with the best.
1. Ilia Topuria – ‘El Matador’ (14-0)
Height: 5’7” | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Featherweight
Topuria was born in Germany to Georgian parents but moved to Spain when he was 15 years old. Shortly after moving, he started MMA at his local club, and within 3 years he turned professional.
He won the featherweight title in Mix Fight Events and won the title fight in Cage Warriors, but didn’t win the belt because he missed weight. He made his UFC debut at just 23 years old and has won his first 6 first UFC fights via 4 finishes and 2 decisions
Topuria has a Greco-Roman wrestling background and is a Bjj black belt. He has trained at MMA Masters in Miami but his home is Climente Club in Alicante, Spain.
Known as ‘El Matador’, his best skills are:
- Powerful body shots to get his opponents dropping their hands before he goes up top
- Fast and explosive striking with excellent technique
- Fluid footwork and movement
- 92% takedown defense in 5 UFC fights
- Killer instincts – 12 finishes in 13 fights
- Very well-rounded to the point of having no weaknesses
So far in the UFC, Topuria has beaten tough competition: Jai Herbert, Damon Jackson, Ryan Hall, Bryce Mitchell, and Josh Emmett to earn his position as the #9 ranked UFC featherweight and as the best Spanish UFC fighter.
2. Joel Alvarez (20-3)
Height: 6’3” | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Lightweight
Joel Alvarez is an incredibly tall lightweight, standing 6’3” tall, just 1 inch shorter than the tallest UFC lightweight of all time.
He didn’t start training MMA until he was 18 years old, but competed around Spain and quickly became the Ansgar Fighting League (AFL) lightweight champion.
He still trains in Spain while in the UFC, and has the following skills:
- Pure finishing ability – 100% finish rate in 20 wins
- Slick submissions, especially quick with locking up guillotines when taken down – 17 out of 20 wins via submission
- Great guard on his back – uses elbows and constantly looks for submissions: guillotines, triangles, and armbars
- Long-reaching jabs, snapping, wide, long-reaching calf kicks, and powerful high roundhouses
- Great explosive movement into strikes and when evading
- Powerful elbows standing and when in mount
Despite being a technical striker, most of Alvarez’s wins come via submission because his opponents are wary of his height and reach in the standup, and his height also makes it easier for them to take him down.
In a short time, Joel Alvarez has beaten the likes of Joseph Duffy, Danilo Belluardo, Marc Diakiese, and Thiago Moises, while he most recently lost to top lightweight contender Arman Tsarukyan.
He may have had a better time against Tsarukyan on another night, but a slicing elbow meant blood was blocking his vision.
3. Juan Espino (10-2)
Height: 6’3” | Reach: 80” | Stance: Orthodox | Weight Class: Heavyweight
Juan Espino started his martial arts career as a grappler, where altogether he won over 10 gold medals from the European and World Grappling Championships from 2011 to 2016.
Juan Espino became an MMA pro in 2009 but didn’t get serious about MMA training and making it a full-time profession until 2016 – he didn’t compete between April 2011 and March 2017.
After winning 6 consecutive fights on his return, he entered The Ultimate Fighter and was the season 28 heavyweight winner.
In his short MMA career, Juan Espino’s best skills were:
- Great variety of submission finishes: triangle, scarf hold, straight armlock, rear-naked choke, arm-triangle choke, kimura, and guillotine
- High cardiovascular endurance for a heavyweight
- Fake takedown into powerful overhand rights because he knew his opponents were wary of his grappling skills
- Light-footed and had the movement of a middleweight / light heavyweight
- Heavy top control where he wears on opponents before looking for submissions as they present
Unfortunately, after earning a UFC contract, Juan Espino only competed two more times in the UFC, beating Jeff Hughes and losing an extremely controversial split decision against future heavyweight contender, Alexander Romanov.
He was riddled with injuries and was out of action for two years until his retirement in April 2023. Despite his short career, his skills were clear for all to see.
The Bottom Line
Ilia Topuria, Joel Alvarez, and Juan Espino are the three best Spanish UFC fighters in the promotion’s first 30 years.
There hasn’t been a huge amount of Spanish talent entering the UFC due to the country not being hugely into MMA, and the UFC not scouting over there.
However, there have been other Spanish UFC fighters, such as:
- Enrique Marin – 0-2 in the UFC
- Abner Lloveras – competed in The Ultimate Fight: Season 22
When more talented Spanish UFC fighters come around, this list will be updated.