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Rani Yahya

What’s next for longtime WEC & UFC bantamweight veteran Rani Yahya?

Rani Yahya just returned to the octagon this past Saturday for the first time in 364 days as he took on fellow BJJ black belt Ray Rodriguez.

Though he’d been out a while, and hadn’t won a fight in nearly three years, Yahya returned to his peak form at UFC Rani YahyaVegas 21, and it was absolutely beautiful to see.

Rodriguez was trying to keep Yahya at bay with his strikes, but got taken down once each in rounds one and two. That’s where the arm-triangle choke finish stemmed from at 3:09 of round two, giving Yahya his 21st career submission victory.

That’s really something when you consider that was his 27th victory overall, no one has a ratio like that.

Going back to the WEC, Yahya was a force then as well, having defeated the likes of future featherweight title challenger Mark Hominick (rear naked choke), Yoshiro Maeda (guillotine choke), former bantamweight champion Eddie Wineland (rear naked choke), and Josh Hosman (north-south choke), before merging into the UFC‘s roster.

He also challenged Chase Beebe for the WEC bantamweight championship back in 2007.

Upon joining the UFC, Yahya defeated former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown via unanimous decision, before losing a unanimous decision in his next fight to Chad Mendes. Three victories would follow over the likes of former No. 1 contender Josh Grispi (north-south choke), Mizuto Hirota (UD), and Josh Clopton (UD).

Rani YahyaYahya then lost a split decision to Tom Ninimaki in a fight many believed he won, before having a no contest with future, and former BKFC 135 lb champion Johnny Bedford.

Since this however, Yahya’s gone 8-2-1, defeating the likes of Johnny Bedford (kimura) in their rematch, Masanori Kanehara (SD), Matthew Lopez (arm-triangle choke), Michinori Tanaka (UD), Henry Briones (kimura), Russell Doane (arm-triangle choke), and Luke Sanders (heel hook).

In this time he lost only to former Bellator featherweight & TPF bantamweight champion Joe Soto, and former LFA bantamweight champion Ricky Simon, both via unanimous decision, as well as going to a draw with Enrique Barzola.Rani Yahya

There are only a select few that possess the grappling ability of Yahya, and it’s great to see him still being this effective with it at 36 years old. When it comes to the takedown, top pressure, and elite ability to submit opponents, let alone the diversity of his submission attack, Yahya is certainly a top ten grappler in the UFC today.

He has his 2nd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a few world championships in the art to thank for that.

Most forgot about him due to his inactivity, but he’s back and ready to climb his way back into the top 15 rankings.

Now that he came back and had an incredibly impressive, and dominant performance at UFC Vegas 21, what’s next for Rani Yahya?

We’re just going to throw this one out there, though it’s likely it won’t ever happen. But someone by the name of Ryan Hall, who’s had one of the most unlucky runs in the sport when it comes to finding an opponent, would make for a great fight with Yahya.

Hall was expected to face Ricardo Lamas in May of last year, and he was scheduled to face fellow BJJ black belt Dan Ige this past weekend, but was forced out of the bout with an injury.

He hasn’t fought since July of 2019, the week before Leon Edwards fought Rafael dos Anjos, where he handily defeated Darren Elkins via unanimous decision.

Hall, like Yahya, is one of the sports premier grapplers, boasting numerous world championships in the art, and he needs an opponent. Yahya has fought at 145 lbs a number of times before, why not move back up for this one?

Davey Grant would also make for a great next opponent, as he’s on the first win streak of his UFC run, dating back to 2013. The reason for this would be his long string of injuries, keeping him from being active. Grant’s KO’d his last two opponents however, and has won his last three straight.

Lastly is Casey Kenney, who’s coming off a unanimous decision defeat to the greatest bantamweight of all-time, Dominick Cruz. This would make for a great match up because, well, they’re both stud grapplers with underrated striking.

We know Yahya’s credentials on the mat, but you’d be interested to know that Kenney too has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a 2nd-degree black belt, and numerous national championships in Judo.

Kenney is a former LFA champ-champ, and he’s already defeated the likes of Brandon Royval (UD), Ray Borg (UD), Manny Bermudez (UD), Louis Smolka (guillotine choke), and Nathaniel Wood (UD).

What’s next for longtime WEC & UFC bantamweight veteran Rani Yahya?

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