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Rani Yahya: Ex-training partner Enrique Barzola ‘knows I’ll submit him’ at UFC Brasilia

Rani Yahya looks tou bounce back from a decision loss in his most recent Octagon appearance.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

BRASILIA, Brazil — Watching your opponent’s previous fights can give you ideas on how to secure a victory, but Rani Yahya and Enrique Barzola will have something more to rely on before their UFC Brasilia clash on March 14.

Yahya and Barzola shared the mat on a daily basis before “El Furte” departed American Top Team for American Kickboxing Academy, and the Brazilian bantamweight feels extra confident “fighting in my hometown against a good opponent, someone I had the opportunity to train with before.”

A veteran of the game, Yahya says he never hesitated agreeing to fight someone that defended the same team for a long time.

“I’ll fight anyone, man,” Yahya told MMA Fighting. “If you’re in my weight class and (the UFC) offered it, I’ll fight. I’ll accept a fight against anyone.”

The jiu-jitsu black belt, a multiple-time champion in the grappling world, won’t comment on the specifics of his training sessions with Barzola. Yet, he expects The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 2 lightweight winner remember his skills on the ground.

“I won’t comment on it out of respect for the public as well, of course,” Yahya said. “Let the public see it. Let people watch the fight there. But it were good, very productive training. We always had good training with each other. We got along well. I remember having good experiences in training with him, for both of us.”

Barzola has never been finished before in MMA, but no opponent had the grappling credentials of an ADCC gold medalist.

“I see myself defeating him in many different ways,” Yahya said. “He knows I see myself beating him with a submission, and I truly believe I will submit him.”

Yahya hasn’t entered the Octagon since February 2019, when Ricky Simon stopped his three-fight winning streak with a decision in Australia. Asked if the long layoff after a shoulder and biceps surgery could be an issue, Yahya immediately shut it down.

“No way,” he said. “It was a good opportunity to evolve and have some time off to reevaluate many things, even in my personal life, things that reflect in my career as a fighter. It was excellent. I had a great training camp after surgery.”

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