Photo: Mike Jackson
UFC Bantamweight Adrian Yanez is not just some kid from South Texas. He is not just a meter reader who would live for the weekend. Yanez has a gift that has propelled him to the biggest stage in the world: the UFC.
Ever since he was a kid, Yanez’s passion for martial arts was present. He particularly preferred the practice of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and still does to this day.
On top of the martial arts training, Yanez dreamed about becoming a professional boxer. His father was a boxer, so the fighting spirit was already in his blood. However, his ground skills were just too good to ignore, so he ended up pursuing MMA instead.
Now, Yanez is 27 and sits with a black belt in BJJ and a spot on the UFC’s roster.
“A lot of people don’t know, but I started jiu-jitsu before I started anything else,” Yanez said. “I started off on the ground before anything, so to see the progression and for it to happen...it was kind of like a pat on the back. It was a long journey.”
Although it is early on his career path, especially with the UFC, it is evident that Yanez is playing the long game.
It can be perceived as admirable to be in the sport purely for the love of the game and not care about the money, but that is only a reality for a select few. Unless you are a superstar to the likes of Conor McGregor and formerly Ronda Rousey, being a fighter is a grind. Even before those two rose to stardom, there were many days of struggle before the money rolled in.
The life of a fighter before being a superstar consists of long days, putting your body through the wringer, and only coming out with a living wage if you win.
It is obvious that Yanez would not be fighting unless he loved it, but to make his dream his job, money absolutely matters. Now, the kid from Texas who worked for the city while chasing his dreams is finally in a position to make that dream pay the bills.
In Yanez’s case, his electric hands and knockout power put him in a good spot to get a $50,000 performance bonus. In fact, he did in his UFC debut against Victor Rodriguez in October.
“It felt really good,” Yanez said. “It was an accumulation of hard work that I have been putting into this MMA game for years, and it finally felt like it paid off. I go on the biggest stage of my career and go out there and get a spectacular knockout with a head kick. That was a really big moment for me.”
Fancy cars and flashy clothes weren't Yanez’s first thoughts with the few extra thousand that came from that first-round head kick knockout.
“It’s all in savings,” Yanez said. “I am looking to start investing pretty soon. I had a couple hundred dollars in [Robinhood]. I invested in Bitcoin, ETC, and also Dogecoin. I saw how much it made me and I was like ‘oh, I like this.’ I don’t know if it is just a craze or what it is...but I’m looking into it.”
Despite joking about Dogecoin and a lot of the cryptocurrency trends, the idea of investing is genuine. In order for Yanez to truly love what he does, financial freedom needs to come. Without the stress of paying a mortgage and putting food on the table, 100% of mental effort can be put into his craft.
“I just want to be able to live on money I don’t have to make from fighting,” Yanez said. “That is my biggest goal, just to fight for the fun of it.”
Now, the 135-pounder will look to add even more to the bank account and dogecoin fund on March 20. He is set to face Gustavo Lopez at UFC Fight Night: Brunson vs. Holland on ESPN+. To watch the full interview with Yanez, click here.