Adrian Yanez was already confident, but now even more so.
The rising UFC bantamweight contender just got a boost of morale by watching fellow Dana White’s Contender Series alum Jamahal Hill win the UFC light heavyweight title this past Saturday at UFC 283 in Brazil. Hill’s victory has Yanez (16-3 MMA, 5-0 UFC) thinking he can do the same in his own division.
Yanez, who won a UFC contract through DWCS in 2020, believes Hill’s win proved that championship talent can come out of the show, something that was very much needed.
“For the longest time, the Contender Series guys, some had gotten up there, but a lot of them weren’t able to get it,” Yanez told MMA Junkie Radio. “A lot of them have gotten super close, even to the point that they’re in title contention, but then they lose that fight.
“Yeah, I’m really happy to see Jamahal Hill go out there and get the win, because it kind of solidifies what the Contender Series is about. They’ve had so many ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ champs but finally have a Dana White Contender Series champ. … It shows the Contender Series is going to start building a whole bunch of champs. There’s going to be an influx of champs. For me, I’m happy that he broke that barrier for a lot of us.”
But beyond the personal confidence Hill’s win brought to Yanez, the 29-year-old believes this will also benefit current and future UFC fighters who enter the promotion through DWCS.
“It’s going to open a door for an influence of fighters now knowing that it’s possible,” Yanez explained. “… There are many Contender Series fighters that get into the UFC but are quickly taken out. There’s going to be a lot more confidence in these guys knowing, ‘Hey. I’m here. I can make it. Not just be a one-contract fighter. I can be here and be here for a long time.’”
Yanez returns to the octagon on March 4 at UFC 285 against veteran Rob Font. It’s a big fight in the bantamweight division, especially for Yanez who’s unbeaten in the UFC.
Yanez would’ve liked to be the first DWCS contract winner to become UFC champion. But either way, he’s happy for Hill – as he’s a big fan of his.
“Of course you always strive to be that first one, but the fact that it was Hill, it makes it a lot better, because I like his style, and I like the way he fights, and he goes out there and puts it on the line,” Yanez said. “To see him go out there and get that strap was really, really cool.”