Ilia Topuria’s electrifying performance at UFC Jacksonville drew the attention of sports royalty as Spanish soccer legend Sergio Ramos graced the event to witness the star’s victory over Josh Emmett in a high-stakes featherweight contenders’ bout. The legendary defender not only had a front-row seat for Topuria’s stellar display but also took the time to support and connect with his fellow Spaniard before and after the main event.
In an interview with The MMA Hour, Topuria revealed the origins of Ramos’ attendance, explaining that the soccer icon had been following his career for quite some time. “One year ago or something like that, he texted me after one of my fights,” shared Topuria. “He started to follow me on social media, text me, and for this fight, he told me, ‘I’m going to watch you, to support you.'”
Surprised and elated, Topuria exclaimed, “I was like, ‘Really? You will come?’ He told me, ‘Yes, I’m on vacation. I didn’t have any football match, soccer match, so I’m going to go to watch you fight.'”
True to his word, Ramos fulfilled his promise and witnessed Topuria’s impressive five-round performance, a display that could potentially elevate the young fighter to the No. 1 contender spot in the featherweight division. Topuria, originally from Georgia but residing in Spain, now awaits the outcome of Alexander Volkanovski’s unification bout with interim champion Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290, eagerly looking for his next opportunity in the aftermath of that highly anticipated contest.
Ramos’ support extends beyond the octagon; his social media endorsement could provide a significant boost to Topuria’s recognition in the combat sports realm. Known for his illustrious career with Real Madrid and the Spanish national team, Ramos brings a wealth of experience and respect to Topuria’s journey.
Amid the growing fame and attention, Topuria maintains a composed and patient perspective on his trajectory to greatness. “It starts growing little by little,” he humbly reflects, likening success to a gradual process. “Slow is the fastest way to get where you want to be; I always used to say this. I always saw all this movement in my mind; it was just a question of time to bring all this into reality. That’s it. I just enjoy the process.”
As a fighter with roots in both Georgia and Spain, Topuria finds himself embraced by fans from both countries. Despite the difficulty in comparing the support he receives from each nation, Topuria cherishes the widespread encouragement like having “two children” that he cannot choose between.
Following his victory over Emmett, Topuria expressed interest in a potential matchup with former featherweight champion Max Holloway, envisioning a thrilling showdown in his homeland of Spain. The prospect of the UFC’s debut event in Spain fills Topuria with excitement, confident that the fervent MMA following in the country would pack stadiums with passionate fans.
With a twinkle in his eye and dreams of a monumental UFC event in Spain’s iconic Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Topuria’s star continues to rise, fueled by his exceptional skills and the unwavering support of the revered Sergio Ramos. As he embraces his journey towards greatness, Ilia Topuria’s potential knows no bounds, leaving the world eagerly anticipating his next moment of brilliance in the octagon.