As Adrian Yanez prepares for the biggest test of his career, he isn’t giving any credence to anyone who believes his opponent has fallen off following his last two bouts.
Yanez will face Rob Font in a fan-friendly bantamweight matchup at UFC 287, which takes place April 8 in a location and venue yet to be announced. Yanez, 29, has been watching Font compete for years and is a fighter he continues to look up to. In Font’s past two octagon appearances, he dropped a pair of main event decisions to José Aldo and Marlon Vera, two of the division’s best.
So for anyone believing Yanez has the advantage because of Font being on a two-fight skid, or that the New England Cartel standout’s best days are behind him, Yanez begs to differ.
“It actually frustrates me seeing the weird comments of, ‘He’s done, he’s finished,’ because he’s far from done and finished,” Yanez told MMA Fighting. “He was super competitive, and looked super good against Vera, and if he had kept up that pace, and Vera didn’t land those big shots, he probably would’ve won. And even in the Aldo fight, he was never out of place at all.
“Looking at those fights, I know he’s going to bring it in our fight. He’s going to take me seriously, and because he lost those two fights, he’s going to come in super sharp. I’m the guy he’s going to have to prove a point to. I’ll say, I’m the wrong guy to try and prove it against, but even in those losses he looked really damn good. Anybody who says Rob Font is anywhere near finished doesn’t know what the f*** they’re talking about.”
A Texas native, Yanez was hoping to compete at the UFC’s return to San Antonio on March 25, and for a moment, was pondering giving up the opportunity to face Font in order to make that happen. In the end, as much as it would mean to him to fight in Texas, Yanez understood the value in getting a big step up in competition.
“It’s a big name, it’s a bummer it won’t be in San Antonio, but it’s still Rob Font,” Yanez said. “He made his UFC debut when I made my pro debut. This is one of those big fights for me, whether it’s in San Antonio, or wherever this one ends up being at. I’m here for it because, it’s like that old saying, keep climbing until your idols become your rivals, and that’s kind of true in this aspect.
“I’ve always loved his boxing, I just love watching him fight. He’s one of the guys in the sport that I always love watching. This is a cool moment for me.”
Yanez enters the fight on a nine-fight win streak, which includes a 39 second knockout win on Dana White’s Contender Series in August 2020, along with five victories inside the octagon — four of which didn’t make it to the judges’ scorecards. In his most recent outing, Yanez stopped Tony Kelley in the first round at UFC Austin this past June.
The opportunity proves to Yanez that the UFC sees something special in him, especially considering the bantamweight division is one of the deepest, and talent-filled divisions in the sport. Although the fight is a big one, and a win gets him a big push at 135, Yanez isn’t putting any additional pressure on himself.
“If I pass this test, what’s next for me? If I go out there and just starch Rob Font, that’s just going to mean big things for me,” Yanez explained. “I’m super excited the UFC is looking at me like, ‘Let’s see what you do against Rob Font,’ but at the same time, it’s a win-win for me. If I go out there and have a fun fight, and it’s a close fight, it’s still a win because I fought a top-six guy. I don’t get knocked back [too much].
“For me, it’s nothing but ups for me. If I go out there and fight him the way I know I can fight, I’ll be a guy that knocks out Rob Font, and that means a lot.”