Tuesday night, Raul Rosas Jr. will make history as the youngest-ever contest on DWCS. The talent-finding show has featured its fair share of youthful competitors in the past, but one who is still classed as a minor represents a new scenario.
Rosas Jr. has quickly gone about building a record since his professional debut late last year, recording five victories under the Ultimate Warrior Challenge banner in Mexico. With that, “El Niño Problema” received the call-up to DWCS, where he’ll face 25-year-old Mando Gutierrez.
Given his age and inexperience, the decision to grant Rosas Jr. a shot at securing a UFC contract has received some scrutiny. And as with most combat sports debates, fighter-turned-analyst Chael Sonnen was on hand to discuss it.
But this time, “The American Gangster” doesn’t know where he stands…
Sonnen: “It Does Strike Me As Weird”
During a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel, Sonnen assessed the inclusion of Rosas Jr. on this week’s episode of DWCS.
While he often suggests fighters who turn down opponents or back out of fights have no place in MMA, Sonnen admitted that the situation is different when it comes to facing a fighter who is legally classed as a child.
“A kid is coming on the Contender Series. He’s had five fights, all took place in Mexico. He’s gonna come out to the Apex, jurisdiction of Las Vegas, compete; youngest kid ever,” Sonnen said. “I would tell you guys… you fight anyone, anytime, anywhere, or you’re a bully and you don’t belong here.
“There would be an exception to that I never once considered, which is a child. You do not have to go beat up a child. I would tell you that, but I never have because I’ve never been confronted with it. I’m just wondering what you think?” Sonnen added.
Sonnen went on to explain that from a legal stand point, if someone can compete in MMA at the age of 17, there’s nothing from stopping those even younger from doing the same. The former UFC title challenger also noted that even in states that wouldn’t allow Rosas Jr. to fight an adult, those classed as minors can still enter MMA gyms and spar.
“A lot of people will be prudes… There’s a number of states that have athletic commissions that will not allow it,” Sonnen noted. “The law recognizes adult, they recognize minor, and they separate that by 18 years old… So if you’ve been doing it at 17, even 17-and-a-half… Why can’t you do it at seven? From a legal perspective, what difference would it make?
“Before you think, ‘I don’t wanna see children in there,’ I don’t know that I totally disagree with you. It does strike me as weird, too. I haven’t formed an opinion… Within those states where they will not allow minors to compete and wouldn’t allow a minor to take on an adult, they have cities and those cities have gyms. Any age can go in and train and spar.”
With that said, Sonnen pointed out that no other sport restricts children from training through actual competition like MMA, citing child basketball, hockey, and baseball leagues as examples.
Ultimately, Sonnen remained on the fence when it came to the morality of allowing a person 17 years or younger to fight a peer aged over 18, but he did admit that a victory Tuesday will mean Rosas Jr. is deserving of whatever comes from it.
On the flip side, a brutal defeat will undoubtedly lead to questions being asked and a fierce debate.
“I do not have an opinion on this. It’s a very wild situation. A young man from California, who’s 17 years old, will represent the youngest contestant ever… If he goes out and wins, by the way, he should have every right,” Sonnen said. “But a 17-year-old who gets parental consent, goes out there, gets taken down and sliced open with elbows by somebody who’s 28 or 29, it’s gonna feel very different.”
Where do you stand on 17-year-old Raul Rosas Jr.’s DWCS call-up?