Adrian Yanez’s bantamweight bout against Tony Kelley came with several layers of animosity. Alongside the expected trash talk between two men pitting their livelihoods and immediate financial security on the ability to beat one another in a fist fight was a now infamously xenophobic incident captured on video during UFC on ESPN: Blachowicz vs. Rakic.
Kelley, cornering his girlfriend—and UFC flyweight—Andrea Lee, was seen denigrating her Brazilian opponents between rounds, following complaints from Lee that she had been on the receiving end of an eye poke. “That’s what they’re going to do, they’re dirty f-cking Brazilians, they’re going to f-cking cheat like that,” Kelley told Lee while coaching her in her corner.
The comments may not have sparked any official rebuke from the UFC, but they resulted in lots of backlash from fans and fellow fighters. Recent welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns even offered up a ‘bounty’ to Yanez if he could knock Kelley out. Throw in the fact that Kelley missed weight for the fight and, as Yanez recently told the AllStar podcast, it felt like the whole world was cheering him on.
“It’s an awesome moment for me,” Yanez revealed (transcript via MMA Fighting). “Man, that was a lot of emotion. That was a lot of raw emotion, of me just wanting to f-ck that guy up, man. I don’t like that guy. I genuinely don’t like that guy, man. Not even just because of the comments he said, the but stuff leading up, and I heard a lot of stuff about him. It’s a different thing whenever I’m going through the hallways and the UFC staff is telling me to f-ck him up.
“That was the first guy I’ve had [people] be like, ‘F-ck that guy up. Beat the sh-t out of him.’ And there’s been so many thank yous after me whooping him that everybody’s like, ‘Thank you, man, f-ck.’ Those are the nicest people in the world, too, man, so it means a little bit more. It was a little bit more satisfying.”
Yanez defeated Kelley via second round TKO, dropping him with a barrage of hooks and some heavy followup shots on the ground. Despite the definitive ending, however, Kelley has been quick to campaign for a rematch.
“He don’t wanna see me again and he knows it,” Kelley told fans, responding to comments on Instagram.
While it’s certainly not a bout that the fast rising Metro Fight Club talent needs, Yanez told his manager that if the UFC wants to book a match between he and Kelley again, he’d happily take the fight. To hear him tell it, it’s just another easy bonus opportunity.
“Right now he’s trying to talk sh-t to me, he’s trying to goad me out into getting a rematch and I just told my managers, ‘Bro, if they are about making that rematch, I would 100 percent take it,’ because I don’t mind another bonus at all,” Yanez admitted. “He’s talking sh-t so I’m happy about it, man. I’m under his skin even after the fight.”
Yanez has said he hopes to return to action sometime in October. Sitting now at 5-0 inside the Octagon—and riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak—it just may be that the next time Yanez sets foot inside the cage he’ll be looking at ranked opposition, and a chance to climb into the bantamweight elite.
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