Juan Espino, lo imposible

Lo que nos mueve realmente
a los hombres a seguir adelante,
incluso por caminos diferentes,
y a cantar cada uno –cuando puede-
como sabe,
es algo que todos llevan en caliente,
a golpes de corazón: la sangre.

– Agustín Millares, poeta canario –

Concluyó la espera, terminaron los secretos y Juan Espino ya puede celebrar abiertamente que peleará en la finale de The Ultimate Fighter 28. La culminación de su combate frente a Maurice Greene certifica que el que ya era uno de los símbolos más relevantes de la lucha en nuestro país, también es una de las incorporaciones más prometedoras en la categoría heavyweight de la mayor promotora de MMA del mundo.

Pero, ¿Quién es Juan Espino? ¿Cómo termina un prodigio de la lucha canaria en uno de los mejores equipos de MMA del planeta? ¿De dónde viene su talento?

Dicen que la vida es lucha y Espino es la viva representación de ello. Con una infancia difícil incluyendo episodios de bullying, y una situación familiar menos que ideal que le llevó a heredar su primer mote de luchador, El Trota, que en ocasiones era más una cruz que una bandera, Espino encontró en la arena, entre otros guerreros, un lugar al que pertenecer y una puerta a comprender el sentido de su propia vida.

La odisea de Juan ha sido testigo de las múltiples caras de un hombre que se lanzó a la búsqueda de su propia identidad a través de comprender la de otros en un terreno de lucha. Como parte de su proceso de autodescubrimiento, Juan aparcó su carrera como uno de los luchadores más dominantes de lucha canaria para embarcarse a lo desconocido y hacer, por primera vez, algo por lo que ahora será recordado siempre en nuestro país: lo que nadie esperaba.

Espino aterriza en Senegal, un país donde la lucha es parte de la identidad nacional, con la intención de convertirse en uno de ellos, con el evidente recelo del respetable. Lo que el público senegalés desconocía es que se encontraban no solo ante un luchador tremendamente habilidoso, valiente e incansable, sino además a una persona respetuosa y con un tremendo deseo de encontrar un lugar al que pertenecer: había nacido Lion Blanc. Habían recibido a un extranjero y ahora disfrutaban de un héroe.

Si, como decía Eduardo Galeano, la utopía, aunque inalcanzable, sirve para caminar, Espino debe ser un optimista empedernido. Apenas un año después de su debut como Lion Blanc (8 combates más tarde dejaría un sorprendente record de 8-0), inicia su carrera en las MMA para añadir una nueva faceta a su repertorio.

Este nuevo camino le depararía uno de los mayores desafíos de su carrera profesional, un punto de inflexión que le llevó a retomar la ruta, una vez más, de lo inesperado. En lo que no puede sino considerarse una nefasta decisión de su manager fruto de la codicia, se programó su tercera pelea en MMA contra Vitali Minakov, quien dos años más tarde se convertiría en el campeón de peso pesado de Bellator. La diferencia en el nivel de los dos luchadores fue abismal y Minakov le propinó una dolorosa derrota por KO a Espino.

Tras la derrota, Juan abandona durante dos años las MMA para centrarse en seguir creciendo en Senegal, de donde se marchó como un héroe. Cumplida esa etapa, El Guapo se embarca en una nueva aventura fichando por uno de los equipos de élite de MMA a nivel mundial: American Top Team, cuna de grandes campeones como Tyron Woodley o Amanda Nunes. El cambio que experimenta Juan allí es brutal: su cuerpo se transforma en el de un atleta y su mentalidad incansable se afila para convertirse en un vendaval dentro del octágono: tardó 6 años en volver a la jaula, pero nadie ha sido capaz de detenerle desde entonces, ni siquiera Maurice Greene, pero no adelantemos acontecimientos.

The Ultimate Fighter ha sido una experiencia mentalmente demoledora para Juan. La convivencia durante esta edición ha sido particularmente complicada, en buena parte por la conducta autodestructiva y violenta de Greene, que durante sus vergonzosos episodios de alcoholismo la tomó con Juan, buscando constantemente la provocación escudándose en el limitado manejo del inglés de Espino. Sin embargo, no contaba con que peleaba con cuatro hombres a la vez: Juan Espino, el muchacho de Gran Canaria que ha vivido la cara más amarga del abuso, El Trota, el hombre que luchó contra sus circunstancias para ganar el honor y el respeto de todos, El León Blanco, el héroe al que toda una nación se rindió; y El Guapo, el luchador que ha estado trabajando sin descanso y renunció a todo por una sola oportunidad. Todos son el mismo, todos son Juan, el hombre que siempre tomó el camino inesperado.

Maurice Greene pasó la semana preparándose para luchar contra un grappler, afilando su jab para mantener a Juan lo suficientemente lejos como para que sus derribos no fueran un peligro, confiando que su potencia de pegada y su largo alcance serían suficientes contra lo que habría sido la táctica más lógica por parte de Juan: aprovechar su experiencia como luchador y su Jiu Jitsu para dominar la pelea desde el suelo. A estas alturas, incluso aunque no hubiéramos visto la pelea, sabríamos lo que iba a ocurrir.

Lo inesperado.

Juan Espino "El Guapo" a la final del TUF!!! Juan derrota a Maurice Greene por sumisión (mataleón) en menos de 2 minutos en una pelea dominada totalmente por él y que le convertirá en el cuarto español en pelear en el UFC.Muchas felicidades Juan!

Publiée par La Jaula del MMA sur Jeudi 22 novembre 2018

Menos de 40 segundos y un par de fintas le bastaron a Juan para entender que Greene había obviado su capacidad de golpeo: en cada amago Greene dejaba de proteger su cabeza y bajaba el centro de gravedad. No hicieron falta más pistas: la mano de El Guapo voló por encima de su cabeza para acabar en el mentón de Greene, que queda paralizado como un ciervo antes de ser atropellado. Un camión de 4 ejes en forma de uppercut le alcanza de lleno y cae al suelo, donde Juan se abalanza como un animal salvaje, dejando salir toda la rabia acumulada en esas semanas donde le habían intentado hacer la vida imposible. Cualquier amago de recuperación es inútil, el León ya ha cazado a su presa, y no se detiene hasta que consigue tomar su espalda y finalizar con un mataleón.

“¡Aquí es donde se habla, carajo!” Gritaba Juan tras el anuncio oficial de su victoria.

Te hemos escuchado Guapo, alto y claro.

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