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Terrance McKinney downplays fast UFC start, but prepared ‘to fight for the belt right now’

Terrance McKinney isn’t letting a fast start to his UFC career go to his head.

At UFC Vegas 49, McKinney improved to 2-0 inside the octagon with two first-round finishes, this time submitting Fares Ziam in a little over two minutes. It was a worthy follow-up to his debut at UFC 263 last June, where he recorded the fastest finish ever by a UFC lightweight when he knocked Matt Frevola out in seven seconds. And McKinney has already booked his next fight, stepping in on short-notice to fight Drew Dober at UFC Vegas 50 next Saturday.

Though he’s now one of the most talked-about prospects at 155 pounds, McKinney wants it to be known that he’s not just here to generate viral clips, his ultimate goal is to capture a UFC title.

“I’m not trying to get into hype because there’s still a lot more work to be done,” McKinney said on a recent episode of The MMA Hour. “I’m not here just to fight, I’m here to get the belt and until that job is done I’m not gonna get excited.”

McKinney, 27, began his breakout run before he even made it to the UFC. His first crack at the promotion came on a Contender Series card in 2019, where he lost by second-round knockout to Sean Woodson. He then lost to future UFC signing Darrick Minner, but returned in 2021 with a vengeance.

First, he knocked Dedrek Sanders out in 16 seconds last March. Seven weeks later, another knockout, this time of Toninho Gavinho in 17 seconds. And then in April, he made it three straight with a 72-second knockout of Michael Irizarry Ortiz. If all of that didn’t earn him another look from the UFC, McKinney then took matters into his own hands by accepting a fight with Frevola on less than a week’s notice and the rest is history.

McKinney never doubted that he’d eventually end up in the octagon.

“No, I didn’t, because I knew I was dominating that whole fight [with Woodson],” McKinney said. “I just made one mistake. I knew that if they liked me then, they will like me now. I just need to keep doing what I do and that’s just go out there and finish fights and I’m always looking for the finish and I knew they liked that energy, so I just had to come back stronger.”

With championship gold on his mind, McKinney would be happy to be booked in a title fight tomorrow. That won’t happen, but by signing on to fight Dober and make his second walk to the octagon in two weeks, he’s clearly all about putting his money where his mouth is.

“Throw me to the wolves, whatever, you gonna see that I’m really ready for this moment,” McKinney said. “This is not a game.”

“No fear in my heart. I feel like I got everything I need to fight for the belt right now. I can wrestle, I can grapple, I can strike. I got unbelievable power for my weight class.”

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