After not being too active in the UFC for the past few years due to injuries, Rani Yahya (27-10-1) proudly told Behind The Grind “I’m back.”
After his recent submission win against Ray Rodriguez (16-8) at UFC Vegas 21 Yahya stated, “I feel great. It’s so good to win, man, so good to submit people.” The Brazilian now holds the record for the most finishes at bantamweight in combined UFC and WEC history. Yahya’s nine submissions in the UFC and WEC make him the all-time UFC/WEC bantamweight leader. Overall, this was Yahya’s 21st submission win of his career.
The 36-year-old is the definition of a UFC veteran. Debuting for WEC, he submitted Mark Hominick (20-12) at WEC 28 in 2007. In his debut fight for the UFC, Yahya earned a unanimous decision win over Mike Brown (25-9) at UFC Fight Night 23 in January 2011. The fight took place at Fort Hood, Texas back in the days when the fights were televised on Spike TV.
The bantamweight said he’s gained a lot of knowledge and experience throughout his long fight career.
“I did so many things in the beginning without knowing anything,” Yahya said. “This game has evolved so much. In 2008 or 2009 I discovered how to diet properly during fight week. Now, this past week before my fight, I was following the prescription the UFC gave to me nutrition-wise and it was completely different from what I have done the last decade. This is just one example of how things change and evolve. Every single day it gets more professional.”
Yahya also explained how his training has evolved through the years. “There was a time I used to train a lot and do a lot of sparring. A few fights back I had no sparring sessions in my training camp at all and I had my best performance. In my 20’s I never would have thought that was possible. I still think that for me I need to spar, but I do a lot of light sparring. For me, as a grappler, I like to get the timing of the takedowns and turn the striking situation into a grappling situation. I spar with small gloves, no shin pads, no headgear. We just do light touching and transitions to the ground and into submissions.”
As for what he sees next in his career, Yahya explained, “I’m never going to turn away the possibility of one day fighting for a title, but at this point, it’s not my main goal. I’m thinking about my next fight and to perform at my very best. If I keep winning and eventually I have a good sequence of wins, my name might be there for a title eventually. I was very happy with the recognition from the UFC of my breaking the record for submissions in the bantamweight division so I’m very motivated to grow my name and grow my legacy in that direction.”