The talent of Adrián Yañez (14-3) has flourished during the months of the pandemic, to the extent of recognizing the UFC Apex as his second home, where he will fight for the fifth consecutive time this Saturday against Englishman Davey Grant (13-5) .
Yañez, born in Texas with Mexican parents, comes on a seven-win streak, the last four at the UFC facilities in Las Vegas, just in August 2020 he knocked out Brady Huang in 39 seconds to win his contract in the Contender Series and since there he has attracted the attention of the bantamweight.
He debuted against Víctor Rodríguez with a spectacular kick to the head in the first round, followed by another knockout of Gustavo López and finally his biggest test yet, a fight against Randy Costa who dominated the first round, but in the second he tasted the best of his Mexican boxing and also earned him another knockout. All three were accompanied by performance bonuses and recognized the degree that reigning category champion Aljamain Sterling took him to his camp to simulate interim monarch Petr Yan.
“I learned a lot, it was a lot of learning especially when you see the levels. First when we checked the hands, he was learning from me, a lot of people can throw punches, but very few can do it very well and I am one of them.
“His shots are good, but not as good as mine. When it comes to wrestling and jiu-jitsu, he is so many levels above most, he taught me a lot, I taught him in hitting and he in wrestling and jiu-jistu, fortunately I have more people helping me find the gaps than I have and we are working on closing them, ”Yañez explained to ESPN Digital.
Less than a month after his last victory, on August 19, his coach Saul Soliz, passed away from complications from Covid-19, a severe blow for a fighter who also lost his father and corner before he could reach the UFC, cancer victim.
Traveling to New York with Sterling was beneficial in several ways, in addition to learning, it took him out of the environment where he worked with Soliz every day and helped him recreate the best years with him.
“Ray Longo showed me photos that he had with him, it was very strange because suddenly I felt that he was still with us in the stories he told me,” he added.
At 27 years old, he has only experienced defeat three times, by way of decision and two of them were divided. He knows that facing Grant gives him the possibility of another great fight, against a frontal-style rival, coming off a loss to Chito Vera and eager for victory.
“He gets me out of bed and keeps me going, because every time I get up he makes me think ‘This guy wants to knock me out’, okay, it will be my version of Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward, we will see if he can resist the blows. If he does not succeed it will be a night of 50 thousand dollars and if he succeeds it will also be because we will have the fight of the night, “said the Mexican-American.
The routine at UFC Apex has become simple for him, he describes it as another day in the gym, with the difference that he has come out with three juicy payouts for his performances and is now in a position to approach the top 15 of the division. which he recognizes as “the most competitive in the UFC.”
Grant, a 35-year-old veteran, seems like the perfect dance partner for a show, but he can’t rely on an easy fight, as Randy Costa made him suffer in his previous appearance and had to learn to manage his emotions, as they are hurting him with the jab and he was looking to respond with a single knockout punch. With the adjustments in the second came the hook to the liver that his father taught him by watching the fights of Julio César Chávez or Juan Manuel Márquez.
“Especially, I was hitting him with that one. I think it was two in the first round, but that last one, I knew it hurt because it opened the space for my uppercut, it was hurting the body, trying. I knew he was going to put pressure so I wanted to work the body from the beginning, but I had to work with the jab and other things. Those shots to the body, I would have loved it to end with ‘The Mexican hook’ I would have been happy, but it was an uppercut, the hook opened the way, “he explained.
Yañez shares an agency with Brandon Moreno and, curiously, his mother proclaims herself the number one fan of the flyweight champion, so he surprised her at UFC 262, when he took her to meet him.
“She had no idea, I told her we had a meeting. He ended up doing a seminar at Renzo-Gracie (In Houston). We went in and he saw Brandon and he started to get excited so I had to ask him the favor ‘Hey Brandon, can you help me and take a picture with my mom’ and he said ‘Sure, man’, he’s a good guy, he was very kind of his part, now I just have to get two more photos of Alexa Grasso and Irene Aldana and I think we will be fine with that, ”added the fighter from the Metro Fight Team.
Yañez and Grant are part of this Saturday’s main card, starring former bantamweight champion Miesha Tate and Brazilian Ketlen Vieira.