Adrian Yanez (16-3 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is set to clash with Rob Font (19-6 MMA, 9-5 UFC) in a battle of two of the UFC bantamweight division’s sharpest boxers at UFC 287 on Saturday, April 8.
It will be No. 6 Font looking to defend his top-10 spot against surging No. 12-ranked Yanez in a fight that fans of the sweet science have marked on their calendars.
Yanez believes the two are clashing for the unofficial title of best boxer in the 135 division, and the idea has Yanez “really, really, really excited.”
“It will definitely solidify me as being the best boxer in the 135 division if I start piecing him up and he shoots,” Yanez told MMASucka. “That, to me, solidifies me being the best boxer in the 135 division. I’m actually really excited to put that to the test, because [Font’s] up there. I think there are two people who are up top. It’s me, Petr Yan, and Rob Font who are all competing for that spot. Right now, it’s really just me and Rob Font. I feel like we’re the two best boxers in the division, so, to me, we’re clamoring for that number one spot as the best boxer in the 135 division.”
Dissecting the match-up, Yanez feels he is more confident in the vision and countering aspects of boxing than Font is.
“He does a really good job of throwing the jab and throwing combinations offensively,” Yanez said. “I feel I’m better defensively. I take advantage of all the slip-ups in guard manipulation. Rob, again, he’s really slick with what he does. He has a high-level jab. I feel the second I get my timing and rhythm going, it’s kind of downhill for him.”
While the hands are the focal point of both combatants, Yanez said it is a mixed martial arts bout and plans to throw everything in his repertoire. He has been working with a Muay Thai coach for about a year and has worked on adding kicks to his arsenal.
While Yanez KO’d Victor Rodriguez with a head kick in his UFC debut, it’s been mostly his hands that secured finishes over Tony Kelley, Randy Costa, and Gustavo Lopez. The Texan also holds a split decision win over Davey Grant, the highest-ranked opponent he’s ever fought, according to Tapology.
“I had good kicks that increasingly have gotten better to the point where I’m sparring guys who do strictly a lot of Muay Thai, and I’m having a lot of success against those guys,” Yanez said. “For me, the hands, I’ve never had a problem. The kicking department, I’m getting there. I don’t show it too much in my fights, but everybody’s been telling me at the gym, I’ve had to tone back my leg kicking because I’ve had some guys limping out of the gym, and I felt bad about it. It’s gonna definitely be a mixture in the stand-up. I do expect [Font] to shoot, so I don’t think it’s going to be strictly a boxing or a stand-up fight. I feel like it’s going to be an overall MMA fight.”
Yanez, in early 2021, predicted he would be a ranked bantamweight by 2022. He achieved that. While he is on schedule rankings-wise, Yanez said he thought he would have had more fights by now.
“That’s the only difference between what I’ve had planned and what direction I was going toward. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have five fights right now. I’d probably have around eight fights by now,” he said. “Everything is happening for a reason. In the same time I’ve tried to get into the top-15, I’ve done it with less fights. That just speaks volumes about how much better I’m getting in every department. Honestly, the competition has gotten better, better and better. And now, I get to fight someone like Rob Font who’s top-6, and that skyrockets me to fight guys who are in the top-5.”
Yanez said he is not in a rush, and at the age of 29, he has time.
“I can hone things in and get better everywhere. I know I can compete with those top-5 guys, but I won’t rush it, because whenever it’s my time to fight those guys, I want to completely and utterly dominate.”
Yanez said his goal for 2023 is to have two or three “pretty big fights.”
“This is a big fight itself: me vs. Rob Font. It’s already the biggest fight I’ve ever had. At the moment, this is the biggest fight of my career. It kicks off with this one. Fight Rob Font, I beat him and then get another big name, a big top guy who’s at least in the top 10. Get a top-10 match-up at the least. That’s what I’m looking at. That’s what I’m hoping and praying I get. Last year, only fighting once was a bummer to me. I was able to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, which was great, as well. I wanted to be more active, and hopefully, everything pans out so I can fight at least two, but I’m pushing for three, fights this year.”
Yanez’s knockout of Kelley was his lone UFC appearance in 2022. Not for a lack of trying, though.
At the end of 2021, after his win over Grant, Yanez told the UFC he wanted to take three months off because his son was just born. After his paternity leave, he told the UFC he was back in the gym and training, and that he wanted a fight. Potential opponents kept saying “no,” Yanez said, when he heard about UFC Austin on June 18, 2022.
“Going from fighting Davey Grant to fighting Tony Kelley, at the time, it was kind of a downgrade,” Yanez said. “I went from a guy who was just outside the top-15 to a guy who was at the back of the line. The Tony Kelley fight was more because I wanted to fight, and there was no one else around me who was booked, and he was the only guy saying yes. That was the only reason.”
After Yanez’s victory in front of his home crowd, he began hearing clamorings about him fighting Font at Madison Square Garden in November. Yanez told the UFC he was “100% down.”
“I come to find out [Font] wasn’t ready, [the UFC] starts throwing other names at me. I said yes to all of them, but everybody was saying no. I didn’t know what was going on. I was pretty much practically begging my manager for fights, but nothing was lining up. So finally, I get the Rob Font fight, but later than what I expected.”
Yanez’s prediction for his long-awaited clash with Font?
“I believe it’s going to be a Fight of the Night second-round TKO with me getting my hand raised.”
UFC 287 is set to go down from the Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida, on April 8. The card is slated to be headlined by the rematch between middleweight champion Alex Pereira and former champ Israel Adesanya. Jorge Masvidal is set to clash with Gilbert Burns in the welterweight co-headliner.
Font vs. Yanez is also penciled into the PPV main card.
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