Rivalries: Adrian Yanez

When Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight contender Adrian Yanez kicks off his 2024 campaign, it will be interesting to see what the La Porte, Texas, native has in store for the year. A lot of that will ride on what happens when he faces Vinicius Salvador in a featured UFC Fight Night 241 attraction this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Once the Octagon door shuts, Yanez needs to rise above the two losses he suffered in 2023. With enough time to sit on the setbacks, chew over them, brush himself off and get back in the saddle, he figures to put forth a tenacious effort.

Ahead of his forthcoming battle with Salvador at 135 pounds, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape Yanez’s career to this point:


Miles Johns

Yanez and Johns went to war for the vacant Legacy Fighting Alliance bantamweight throne at LFA 55. Johns executed his game plan flawlessly over 25 minutes, pressuring Yanez against the cage and maintaining a pace that would be conducive to his approach. “Chapo” proved to be the more well-rounded fighter, executing swift takedowns in the second and third rounds. In the standup exchanges, he scored at will with his jab; and the volume striking approach severely compromised his opponent’s strategy. Nevertheless, Yanez did not go down without a fight. He kept switching stances and mounted a late rally that saw him threaten his foe with a guillotine choke in the fifth. However, Johns fended off the attempt and demonstrated resilience in the ensuing scrambles. Ultimately, Yanez’s gallant effort fell short on the judges’ scorecards, as Johns walked away with a split decision.

Gustavo Lopez

When Yanez rose through the ranks of Dana White’s Contender Series, the general accord among mixed martial arts fans was unmistakable: The bantamweight division had a fresh contender with undeniable talent. The American bulldozed Brady Huang in a 39-second technical knockout on DWCS Series in 2020 and kept the ball rolling with a head kick knockout of Victor Rodriguez in his UFC debut. Against Lopez, Yanez pieced together a stellar boxing game, unleashing a thunderous right hand that folded his opponent. No follow-up shots were required as he stepped away with a confident strut, adding a walk-off knockout victory to his highlight reel at UFC on ESPN 21.

Tony Kelley

Yanez’s fighting style has been compared to former UFC welterweight title challenger Jorge Masvidal. While his approach carries the natural embellishments of an explosive bantamweight with different frills, Yanez has never particularly shied away from the comparisons. However, UFC on ESPN 37 opponent Tony Kelley labeled him a “wish version” of Masvidal, which did not go down well with Yanez. He felt a heightened impetus and drive to quash his rival’s comments. Moreover, Kelley’s botched attempt at making weight for the fight—he weighed 1.5 pounds over the bantamweight limit—proved to be another catalyst for discord between the two men. Yanez also revealed that some of the UFC staff members wanted him to “destroy” Kelley inside the cage for his racially charged “dirty f---ing Brazilians” remarks. During the fight, it was Yanez’s fists that did the talking while Kelley was caught pedaling backward. The avalanche of strikes took a toll on Kelley, and even as Yanez secured the TKO at the 3:49 mark of the first round, he stood his ground and maintained eye contact, possibly conveying that the outcome was a direct repercussion of the unwarranted remarks. In that win, Yanez secured his fifth straight post-fight bonus.

Rob Font

Yanez made a big leap in competition when he took on Font at UFC 287. The Metro Fight Club rep proved to be the better fighter in the initial exchanges, scoring heavily in the boxing range with his jab. He kept battering Font’s face, and the accumulated damage started to show on the New England Cartel ace. Undeterred, Font cracked Yanez with an uppercut that wobbled the Texan. From there, it was all Font, as he landed a right hook that sent Yanez crashing to the canvas. He then followed him to the ground for a few more shots, pounding out the finish at the 2:57 mark of the first round.

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