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UFC Lincoln winner Rani Yahya, 7-1 over his last eight, explains strategy of T.J. Dillashaw callout

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Gallery Photo: Rani Yahya Photos
Rani Yahya has only lost one of nine fights at 135 pounds.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Rani Yahya impressed with a 91-second submission victory at UFC Lincoln, but his post-fight callout was a bit surprising.

Leading up to his fight with Luke Sanders, the grappler told MMA Fighting he would be more vocal after the fight to make sure he would get bigger opportunities instead of quickly fading away.

After an impressive victory, Yahya called for a fight with UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw.

Yahya has only lost one of nine bouts since moving back down to bantamweight. He’s finished finished five of those opponents, and currently rides a three-fight winning streak with of all three of those wins coming by way of submission. However, he is still outside the top 15 on the bantamweight division on the UFC’s official rankings.

“[Talking] is the only option we have or everybody forgets about you,” Yahya told MMA Fighting following UFC Lincoln. “We win by submission and people forget about it, so we have to talk, get the microphone and leave our mark. I went for the champion because that’s who I really want, so at least I’m getting a top-10 next, which is what I deserve.”

The 33-year-old veteran, who holds a 26-9 record in MMA, called out the bantamweight champion to try to guarantee a fight with someone ranked in the top five.

“They always ask who you want next, and I wanted to avoid that same old ‘whoever the UFC wants to give me’ answer,” Yahya said. “Dillashaw, (Dominick) Cruz and (Cody) Garbrandt are former champions and are at the top, and a win over any of them really is a big deal. I aim for the champion, so I’ll get a top five or a top 10.”

Yahya will leave negotiations up to his manager Dan Lambert, but will stay in shape to be able to get back in the Octagon as soon as possible.

“Maybe they give me Garbrandt next,” Yahya said. “Garbrandt is coming off two losses to Dillashaw, and maybe he wants to use me to get back to the win [column] and [the UFC] thinks it’s an interesting fight.

“I think I have a good chance at submitting him because I’ve heard he’s not good on the ground,” he continued. “He has wrestling, but I have the experience to deal with wrestlers and take the fight to the ground. It’s not about going for takedowns, I have other options, like I did in this fight. I have good resources to submit him.”