Now that Mexico has its first Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder in flyweight Brandon Moreno, some of the country’s top prospects are getting more opportunities to prove their worth. Genaro Valdez, the latest addition from the area, will join the promotion’s 155-pound weight class when the Dana White’s Contender Series graduate faces Matt Frevola at UFC 270 on Jan. 22.
Valdez carries a perfect 10-0 record and has finished all 10 of his opponents, nine of them inside two rounds. While his level of competition leaves something to be desired, his performance thus far has been nothing short of eye-catching. Valdez made his professional debut in 2016 at the age of 24 and stopped his first three opponents with strikes. He delivered his first submission when he tapped Luis Martinez Brito with a rear-naked choke in September 2017, then improved to 5-0 by smashing Carlos Lopez with elbows and punches in the first round of their encounter six months later. Valdez took a year off before he faced his first real test in Hilario Portales under the Combate Global banner on March 8, 2019. The two men sported similar records and had talent for putting away opponents, so their match turned out to be quite entertaining.
Following a pattern that has become familiar in many Valdez battles, “Rayadito” opened with a takedown attempt that left him exposed to a counter. Portales immediately swept him and captured his back. He was perhaps inches away from securing a rear-naked choke, but Valdez survived and turned into his opponent’s guard as he tried to adjust position. Both men had their moments and pursued the finish inside the distance. Valdez’s tenacity was a key factor, especially on the mat. He dragged Portales to the canvas in the third round, jumped on his back and mauled him with punches. Referee Jason Herzog called for the stoppage 1:37 into Round 3.
Five months after his clash with Portales, Valdez needed less than a minute to dispatch Alan Bautista Munoz with a rear-naked choke. The 51-second submission drew a call from the Lux Fight League, where he debuted against Miguel Arizmendi in February 2020. As usual, Valdez used his quick hands to set up takedowns and move the action to the canvas, where he focused more on inflicting damage than securing position. Arizmendi capitalized on his adversary’s haste to finish and managed to escape once. Nevertheless, “Rayadito” remained true to his game plan, eventually climbed to full mount and cut loose with punches until Arizmendi could no longer intelligently defend himself. The end came 4:47 into Round 1.
Five months later, Valdez adopted the punch-takedown-submission approach against Edgar Diaz Guzman. He was successful yet again. Valdez took down Guzman, softened him with heavy shots, progressed to the back and secured his position with hooks before prompting the tapout with a rear-naked choke 2:34 into the first round.
In his Dana White’s Contender Series appearance on Oct. 5, Valdez went toe-to-toe with Patrik White and put on a show for fans. He tested White’s chin with punches and expended a lot of energy pursuing unsuccessful single-leg takedowns. White absorbed the punishment and responded with some of his own. Even after he conceded a takedown, he surged back to his feet, connected with punches and opened a cut on Valdez’s forehead and nose. Those efforts were not enough to propel White forward. Valdez landed a left hook in the second round that separated the Alaskan from his mouthpiece. Sensing an opportunity was at hand, he followed with a two-piece combination that decked White and resulted in referee Herb Dean waving it off 44 seconds into Round 2.
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