Adrian Yanez (12-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC), will look to stay perfect in the Octagon when he meets Gustavo Lopez (12-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) at UFC Vegas 22 on March 20.
Yanez said he has a lot of respect for Lopez, especially his toughness and refusal to quit. However, Yanez believes his skills are more developed than his fellow bantamweight.
“I’ve fought better wrestlers, and I’ve definitely fought better strikers,” Yanez told MMASucka. “I see a lot of openings I know I’ll be able to take advantage of. If he’s able to take the shots, it’s going to be three rounds of me just picking him apart. But if he can’t take the shots? First-round finish.”
Adrian Yanez vs. Gustavo Lopez: Tale of the Tape
Yanez enters the bout with a 2-inch height advantage and 3.5-inch reach edge. That bodes well for Yanez, who said he does particularly well anytime he’s fought someone shorter than him. It also helps that he knows how to use his length, he said.
“It’s going to be a big advantage for me, because [Lopez is] going to be the one having to try to close the distance,” Yanez said. “He’s the one who has to really put himself into the danger zone for him to land something or even come into the wrestling portion, because I know he’s going to probably want to wrestle me and take me down.”
Yanez also carried a 3.5-inch reach advantage against Victor Rodriguez when he made his UFC debut.
“We saw how that turned out,” Yanez said.
Yanez scored a first-round head-kick knockout of Rodriguez in that one. He believes Lopez is in for a similar fate.
“First-round knockout,” Yanez predicted. “I feel [Lopez] leaves too many openings, and if he hasn’t worked on them during his training camp, he’s gonna fall victim to a vicious knockout. He’s a good fighter, and he’s been tested against a lot of good fighters. To me, I know I’m different. As soon as he feels like he can’t touch me, I know he’s going to want to shoot. And whenever he shoots, I know I’ll land a big shot, and I’ll put him away.”
Two of Yanez’s three professional losses came on the regional circuit to Miles Johns and Domingo Pilarte – both by split decision. Johns and Pilarte both compete in the UFC.
Lopez has lost to Andre Ewell and John Castaneda on the regional circuit. Both now compete in the UFC. Lopez has also lost to top-15 bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili.
Yanez pointed out the similarities in their strength of schedules.
“We both have, on the regional scene, losses to fighters who are in the UFC currently, so we’ve had the high-level fights already,” he said. “Now we’re both in the UFC. I take a look at his record, and it’s something I can respect, because he’s not a quitter. I look at that, and he’s a tough dog. It’s a good test for me.”
Adrian Yanez’s Goals
The UFC bantamweight division has quickly grown into being arguably the promotion’s deepest. Yanez said it’s crazy to see guys like former featherweight champion Jose Aldo ranked No. 5; Merab Dvalishvili ranked No. 12 and a “dark horse” like Rob Font ranked at No. 3. Yanez is “absolutely” chomping at the bit to quickly climb the ladder so he can compete against the best of the best at 135.
“I want to be the dog,” he said. “I want to be the alpha. As soon as I walk into the top tier of the division, I want everybody to be put on notice. You know who the top dog is whenever they walk into the room, and that’s the guy I want to be. Looking at all the top-15 guys, they’re nothing but tough killers. If I’m able to make a statement, and I’m able to place myself into the top tier of the division, it does nothing but great things for me.
“Especially right now, the top-15, anybody can take that belt on any given day. Like, the top-15 in any other division; if you take the No. 15-ranked guy and put them in a title fight, I don’t believe they’re going to get the win. But in the bantamweight division, definitely.”
Yanez’s goal is to go either 4-0 or 5-0 in 2021. He also wants a performance bonus in each bout.
“That’s the cool thing about this promotion. You go in there, and instead of getting overtime with a regular job, you get to go in there for doing really, really good. You get a really big bonus. That’s exactly what I want to do. Four fights, four bonuses and no Fight of the Nights; all performance bonuses.”
Given the depth of bantamweight, Yanez believes he won’t be able to break into the top-15 until 2022; even if he does go undefeated this year. He doesn’t mind proving himself by staying in the win column, however.
“I’m still the freshman, and all those guys are seniors,” Yanez said. “I still gotta make a statement why I deserve to be in the top; like a starter on the Grade A football team. I still know my position in the UFC right now. I’ve still gotta work my way up there. Even if I do finish 4-0 this year, I’m still going to have to do a lot of work.
“Look at Max Holloway, he had to go on a seven, eight-fight winning streak even to get the title shot. If it takes eight fights to break the top-15, I’m there for it. If it takes four, then it takes four. I don’t mind being a workhorse, because I’ve been working for it my whole entire career.”
UFC Vegas 22 is scheduled to go down from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 20.
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