Sometimes in life, it’s the negative points that help create overall positives in the grand scheme – hopefully, that’s a lesson everyone’s learned in some form from the unprecedented year that 2020 was. For Desiree Yanez, push aside all the global turmoil, and she was just looking throw hands.
Here now in the month of April, Yanez finds herself prepped and ready for the biggest fight of her career – something that she once again feared wasn’t going to happen after her coach pranked her saying her opponent dropped out on April Fool’s Day.
2020 left the Texan feeling devastated due to three separate fight cancelations. It almost felt like she was being told that she wasn’t supposed to fight anymore – a choice that was even briefly considered. However, the thought of going out and getting a “real” job just made matters all the more depressing.
Instead of giving up, Yanez persevered through the rough times and it changed her outlook for the better.
“I feel like it helped me grow,” Yanez told MyMMANews of her extended time away from competing. “It helped me grow into the flyweight division and also, I’ve gotten one camp training to figure out Veta [Arteaga] and now I have a whole other camp preparing and training for her. So I kind of considered it a blessing, you know? It was very crappy, I hated it, I wanted to fight. It was very depressing at the time because I honestly didn’t know what I was doing with my life at one point. Now, everything happens for a reason. I know that’s so cliché, but it’s true. So I hope that year off kind of made me an all-around better MMA fighter and hopefully I get to execute and see how that year off has done for me.
“I am a fighter through and through. Even though I’ve only been fighting for five years, I’ve been a fighter inside. I was just like, ‘You know what? Shut up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, some people have it worse. Some people are really going through it and you just can’t fight. Like, get over it.’
“Take it and run with it, and use it to your advantage. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing.”
Kicking off her professional MMA career in March 2018, the 31-year old Waco native quickly crafted a record of 5-2 predominantly as a 115-pound strawweight. With her last time out coming in December 2019 in a controversial split decision loss, Yanez has just been itching to get back in action.
The time away has admittedly helped the Blitz Sport MMA product try to figure out exactly what kind of fighter she wants to be – especially as she’s now a part of the Bellator roster.
Signed to the promotion in the second half of 2020, Yanez’s most recent fight date was supposed to be October 29 in her Bellator debut opposite Veta Arteaga. Thankfully, Bellator 257 on April 16 sees the two matched once more and it no longer feels like a must-win occasion.
“Obviously, I’m going to do everything I can to win, because that’s what I want to do, but that’s not like something I’m stressing over,” Yanez said. “I’m not stressing about winning. I just want to have fun. I want to go enjoy every minute of it. Even if it doesn’t go my way, I still want to go in there and have fun doing it. Because who knows when I’m going to be able to do it again?”
In the end, Yanez recognizes that everyone most important to her will show their love regardless and she knows she brings the excitement. Regardless, she sure didn’t expect to reach a stage like Bellator so quickly. But don’t get it twisted, she’s more than happy that she did as her goal was to be here before turning 32.
As a matter of fact, “Dirty Dez” didn’t even know she was going to be fighting at all when she had her first amateur bout in February 2017. Like, she means she literally didn’t know. Seeing the event’s poster online that her boyfriend posted led to the former softball player starting a new career. But if it wasn’t first for her brother’s guidance, Yanez wouldn’t have met her boyfriend and become a fighter.
“I was planning to travel the world, I had just got done traveling the U.S. in certain areas and I was planning on going to India and all these other places and he was like, ‘No, you need to learn proper [self-defense],'” Yanez reflected. “I was like, ‘I know how to defend myself!’ Thinking I’m all some kind of gangster-type whatever girl, and he was like, ‘No, you need to properly learn how to choke people out,’ this and that. And I’ve been an athlete my whole life – played softball, basketball, all that stuff. So it just kind of started coming naturally and after a week I was like, ‘Crap, I guess I’m not going anywhere.’ And that’s where I met my boyfriend and I honestly never thought I was going to fight.”
Expect the unexpected as they say, and Yanez has definitely learned that throughout her still young MMA journey. What was originally just supposed to be some training to further defend oneself and maybe do some jiu-jitsu competitions turned into being a fighter for one of the sport’s largest platforms. Not too shabby for a once bright-eyed hopeful world traveler.
That in its own right is to already consider Desiree Yanez’s venture a success. But of course, there’s still plenty of stones yet to be overturned
“He’s so proud of me, it’s really awesome,” Yanez said of her brother. “I have him to thank a lot for all of this. Because I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend, he’s now my future husband, I wouldn’t have been fighting, who knows what I’d be doing. I’d probably still be bartending, I don’t know. Who knows where I’d be had he not pushed me to do this. And he didn’t even force me, he just wanted me to learn self-defense, he didn’t know if I was going to like it or not. But being a natural athlete, I fell in love.”
Drake is an MMA writer based out of Brush Prairie, Washington, USA who specializes in feature pieces, the women’s fight scene, lists, news coverage, and rankings. He has been a passionate fan of MMA ever since 2009. Drake has most notably written for BJPenn.com, FanSided, The Body Lock, South China Morning Post, MyMMANews, WhatCulture, Cageside Press, Sherdog, The Scrap, and MMA Today. He has also written for and created video content for RT Sport. As for other sports, Drake is a longtime fan of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @DrakeRiggs_ . Also check out all of his video content on YouTube at YouTube.com/DrakeRiggs where he uploads fighter interviews, podshows, and various other types of content.