Over the short history of the sport, MMA has served as an outlet for several high-level Cuban athletes looking to start a new life in the U.S.
Maikel Perez a former Olympian and Cuban national wrestling team member recently joined the selected group of world-class Cuban combat sports competitors taking up professional fighting. Fighters such as Yoel Romero, Hector Lombard, Alexis Vila and Michel Batista are some of the names that make the list.
Perez was born on 1983 in Cienfuegos a small city located in southern coast of Cuba. He started wrestling at the age of 7 and quickly grappled his way into the big leagues of the sport in Cuba.
At 13 years of age, I was already on the national teams juvenile division, Perez told MMA Fighting. And when I was 16, I went on the mens national team, and my first international tournament, representing the mens national team, was when I was 17.
During his wrestling career, Perez was able to achieve quite a bit. He represented Cuba in many international events including the 2006 and 2009 Pan American Championships, the 2009 World Championships, and the 2008 Olympics. At the 2009 Pan American Championships, Perez took the gold medal at 60 kg.