Photo: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
39 seconds is all it took for Adrian Yanez to punch his ticket into the UFC.
Truthfully though, behind these 39 seconds were years of blood, sweat, and tears that led him to this point, but when it came time to deliver, 39 seconds are all that mattered.
Those seconds of exposure have catapulted Yanez’s career to where it is today, where he is about to make his UFC Debut on Halloween.
On August 11, Yanez was blessed with the biggest opportunity of his career, a shot on Dana White’s Contender Series. He had been a professional fighter for the past six years and had spent time with LFA, Fury FC and Bellator before starting with the UFC in this next chapter.
“From 2014 all the way to 2020, finally, I get my shot to be in the UFC,” Yanez said. “That to me has been a little bit mind blowing. I worked hard for this.”
Over the years, the Contender Series has grown into a platform that highlights up-and-coming fighters, giving them a platform to be seen by the UFC and its fans.
Yanez was paired with fellow Bantamweight Brady Huang in Week Two of the show’s fourth season. It took less than a minute for Yanez to make a statement and win via TKO to secure his spot as a UFC fighter. It was clear even at the time that this moment would make or break Yanez’s chances of getting into the UFC.
“I was not looking past that fight at all,” Yanez said. “I had no plans for anything else. Brady was the fight. I had nothing scheduled past (this fight). I was fully prepared to fight Brady. I accomplished the one goal I set out for and strived for 100 percent.”
Yanez’s ability to avoid damage and make quick work of his opponent had prepared him for a quick turnaround. Now, October 31, the first UFC card on Halloween, will be his debut.
“I am feeling great,” Yanez said. “I am just ready to go. Fight week is here, and I’m just ready to get in there and make my debut. I am super excited, super stokes, and it will be a great performance. I’m just doing everything possible to come out with a win (on) October 31.”
This fight was one that did not happen as easily as it could have. About two weeks out from fight night, Aaron Phillips had to pull out of the bout due to health complications. This left Yanez worried whether the fight would happen at all. Thankfully, the UFC pulled it off and wrangled Victor Rodriguez to step in and make the fight happen.
Rodriguez will also be making his UFC debut, but Yanez says his experience going through the Contender Series and already experiencing UFC pressure will help him tremendously on Saturday.
“Since I already fought on the Contenders, I already have that feeling of the bigger stage,” Yanez said. “I really don’t feel like I’m making my UFC debut. To me, this is [Rodriguez’s] biggest fight. My biggest fight was Brady and I passed that with flying colors. I’m going to walk across and starch this guy either way…but, to me, this is not my biggest fight. My highest stakes fight was with Brady because I only had that one shot.”
UFC Fight Night: Hall vs. Silva will not only be Yanez’s debut event, but likely Anderson Silva’s final time stepping into the Octagon. Although Silva has hinted at fighting again in the future, he has also said this is his last bout.
From sitting in a CiCi’s Pizza and watching Silva knockout Vitor Belfort to now competing in the same event, Yanez feels especially connected with this fight card and Silva’s legacy.
“The day a legend retires, I am making my debut,” Yanez said. “The last place I know I will be watching him fight is going to be the place where I make my debut. That is the cherry on top.”
Before watching Silva enter the Octagon for what might be his final time, watch Yanez square off against Rodriquez in the preliminary card on Saturday, Oct. 31 on ESPN+
To see the full interview with Yanez, click here.