Yahya on Yamamoto

Jan 16, 2008
Just back from a vacation in Indonesia, bantamweight Rani Yahya (Pictures) spoke with Sherdog.com about his recent fight with Norifumi Yamamoto (Pictures). On New Year's Eve the WEC veteran joined a growing list of mixed martial artists who have fallen short against "Kid." The world champion Brazilian jiu-jitsu artist recounted his experience, and spoke about his future with the WEC.

Martins Denis: Rumors have swirled in the Brazilian media saying you were training Muay Thai in Thailand instead of having a vacation in Indonesia.
Rani Yahya (Pictures): I was stunned when I saw this news on the Internet. I didn't go to Thailand. When I went there, it was the same environment as this one -- just fun. But I'll come back to Thailand once again and this time for serious training.

Denis: You fought in K-1 Dynamite 2007 against Norifumi Yamamoto (Pictures). What's your view on that match?
Yahya: A very good fight. This guy is a super athlete with a lot of accomplishments. He's going to compete in Olympic wrestling, besides being the first HERO'S Grand Prix champion and having fought in K-1 MAX. So he was successful in everything he's attempted. I liked fighting against him mainly because it took place in K-1 Dynamite, which is the biggest New Year's Eve show in Japan. Just to mention, the ratings of our fight were the highest of all. This was cool.

Denis: What did you think about the show's production?
Yahya: This was the best show I ever fought on in my life. They treat the fighters very well, and I had never seen that before. We feel the K-1 staff treated us [extremely] well.

Denis: You fought better on the feet than in your previous matches. You jeopardized yourself more. How was your standup training for that match?
Yahya: Well, I've trained boxing and Muay Thai and I competed in those two arts to reach a better understanding of the standup aspects. In my prior fights, I stepped up with a huge confidence in my BJJ. It helped me in some occasions; in others, it didn't. Because of that I hadn't shown my strikes in the other 14 fights I had. This time I wanted to surprise him because he was waiting for several takedowns or me to pull guard. I was confident in the training that my muay Thai instructor, Rodrigo Aguiar, gave me.

Denis: You hit him very well, and he talked in post-fight interviews about the strikes he felt. Did you realize you could finish him with strikes?
Yahya: I did. He felt a strike at the end of the first round, and I worked to knock him out after that. But we clinched or the round ended; I really don't remember well now.

Denis: Even though you landed good strikes, he dominated most of the fight on the feet. Why didn't you try to take him down?
Yahya: I tried the ground fight on a few occasions, sometimes with takedown attempts and other times trying to pull to my guard to sink a heelhook or an ankle lock. He defended well. He was very well prepared.

Denis: The outcome of that fight was controversial because fans weren't certain if soccer kicks were allowed. So are they or not?
Yahya: They weren't. He waited until the referee raised his arm, announcing he was the winner, and then he left the ring quickly to not be disqualified.

Denis: Just like that? Didn't your camp complain?
Yahya: My manager and my master, Ataide Jr., wrote a letter to contest the result. But to tell you the truth, I don't want them to overturn it. In my head this is simple: If I don't make it to the end of the fight, it's because I wasn't the winner. They can give the victory to the other guy because this is not going to change anything in my life. I fight in any type of rules.

Denis: Was the fight stopped by the soccer kicks or by punches?
Yahya: I dropped, a knockdown, and I was trying to grab his leg. So he landed the soccer kicks and the lights turned off.

Denis: What were your main mistakes against Kid?
Yahya: In the moment of the fight, I fought with emotion and I started to put in my aggressiveness. I went after him with combos, and this is extremely dangerous when you face a striker like Kid, like Chuck Liddell (Pictures) for example. Every time I ate a punch it was a counter attack. I was open for the counterpunches. So if I had a chance to fight him again, I'd work on this mistake.

Denis: What was the weight for this match?
Yahya: One hundred thirty six pounds.

Denis: In your last three fights, you changed your weight a lot -- 145 pounds, 135 pounds and now 136 pounds. What's your plan for 2008 regarding weight classes?
Yahya: I never had problems with weight. I'll fight any weight class.

Denis: After you defeated Mark Hominick (Pictures) at WEC 28, it was expected that you would fight for the 145-pound belt against Urijah Faber Because they offered me the 135-pound title match before a fight against Faber. Why didn't this fight happen?

Yahya: Because they offered me the 135-pound title match before a fight against Faber.

Denis: Will you balance your fight career in 2008 between MMA and ADCC?
Yahya: I intend to stay only in MMA.

Denis: And regarding the organization? K-1 or WEC?
Yahya: I'm under contract with WEC. I don't have anything signed with K-1 right now.

Denis: Will you keep training in the United States or in Brazil?
Yahya: In both countries. This is to keep a good versatility in training.

Denis: When will we see you in action again?
Yahya: As soon as possible. I have an extra will to fight again. It may happen in WEC or in any other show.
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