Scouting the Globe: The Five Best Prospects From Argentina

Francisco Albano Barrio
Francisco Albano Barrio Credit: Final Fight Championship

During this MMA hiatus, we’re scouting the globe to bring you the five best prospects from each and every country — well for the most part. This time out, we’re going with Argentina. The South American nation has produced talents like Nazareno Malegarie, Laureano Staropoli, Guido Cannetti, Emiliano Sordi, and most notably UFC welterweight contender Santiago Ponzinibbio. In keeping with the idea of a prospect, we will exclude fighters that have held a title for a major promotion outside the UFC, and fighters over the age of 31.

Lightweight, Esteban Ribovics (8-0)

Esteban Ribovics is a talented fighter who has an 8-0 record with a 100% finish rate. He has five submissions, and where he excels is in the grappling department.

Ribovics is comfortable with giving up position and going to his back. With that said he always tends to have a strong grip, frequently a kimura lock which he can use to either lock in the submission, or move to a dominant position. He has a good flow on the mat on top or bottom attacking submissions at a steady rate and just looking to improve his position. On the feet, he doesn’t have as much cage time but has looked pretty good. I like that he’s a dynamic striker throwing a lot of uppercuts, lead elbows, and a variety of everything including a superman punch. The glaring weakness would be his cardio as he visibly slows down but still has three their-round finishes.

Bantamweight, Mauro Mastromarini (9-1)

One of the better prospects out of Argentina, Mauro Mastromarini still needs some work. He can stand a bit flat-footed and his takedown defense needs to be better. He makes up for that with huge explosive ability. Mastromarini usually throws one strike at a time, and he’s a good counter striker. He’s even better when he explodes forward with strikes and some sniper head kicks at the end of combos. He’s a guy that will always go out on his shield and put on a war.

Lightweight, Francisco Albano Barrio (6-1)

Francisco Albano Bario started in combat sports in Greco-Roman Wrestling and became a considerable success story for Argentina. He was a Pan American Championship bronze medalist, won gold in the South American Games, and a member of the Argentine Olympic Wrestling Team. He has one loss to Filip Pejić and took an almost five-year absence until he came back and got back in the winning circle. Barrio, of course, is an excellent wrestler with heavy hands. He is reminiscent of UFC fighter and fellow Olympian Mark O. Madsen.

Bantamweight, Marcelo Rojo (16-6)

Marcelo Rojo isn’t only one of the most exciting fighters out of Argentina but frankly worldwide at bantamweight. Rojo has a lot of experience and although he has suffered some unfortunate defeats he’s always bounced back stronger. He’s a pure finisher roughly as many finishes coming by KO/TKO as submissions. Rojo has solid jiu-jitsu and on the feet, he’s just so darn dangerous. He has nasty Muay Thai with his knees being his biggest and most dangerous weapon. He has power in his hands and does solid work attacking with leg kicks. Rojo is another fighter that always goes out on his shield and he puts on awesome performances in the process.

Bantamweight, Juan Diaz (5-0)

Just making the cut is the young Juan Diaz. Diaz is the least experienced of all the fighters on the list but still has potential just like the others. He’s well-rounded with good jiu-jitsu and on the feet, he’s got good kickboxing. There isn’t a lot of footage out there on Diaz but of what I’ve seen I’ve liked.