Even the bantamweight champion is taking notice of Adrian Yanez.
The 135-pound UFC champion Aljamain Sterling name dropped the bantamweight contender in an interview with MMA Junkie. Sterling credited Yanez for his striking ability even before his comeback TKO win over Randy Costa at UFC on ESPN this past Saturday, July 24.
“It was really great, I got the champ giving me some props,” Yanez said.
“He [Sterling] knows, he takes a look and sees the skills, but now he has to see my mentality, my heart, me not give up, so he knows even more now of what to expect from me.”
Adrian Yanez is standing out
Yanez is certainly climbing his way up the rankings, earning “Performance of the Night” bonuses in all three of his octagon appearances. The 27-year-old faced adversity on Saturday after Costa established the jab early on.
Yanez struggled to match his opponent in the opening three minutes, but made adjustments during the fight. The Texas native relied on his leg kicks to slow Costa down and landed a hook to the body near the end of round one.
Yanez stung Costa with a right hand and unleashed a flurry. After two hooks to the body, he put Costa down for good with a right uppercut in round two.
Yanez backed up Sterling’s claim about his striking ability.
“He [Costa] even came out and said that body shot hurt and going into the second round, I knew it was a lot to recover from,” Yanez said. “It was me that caused him to slow down because I was countering everything, I was coming forward.”
THERE IT IS 🗣
— UFC (@ufc) July 24, 2021
Unsigned by the UFC a year ago, Yanez earned four-straight victories by TKO/knockout. After finishing Brady Huang in the first round of Dana White’s Contender Series in August, Yanez knocked out Victor Rodriguez and Gustavo Lopez.
Sterling was paying attention.
“You got that kid Adrian Yanez who has the sickest hands. He reminds me of a Jorge Masvidal with the way he throws his punches and his stance, how light he is with hands and his combinations, how quick his combinations come off,” Sterling told MMAJunkie. “There’s just a lot of good guys I have to make sure I keep my eyes out for.”
Sterling is not the only one taking notice of Yanez, who is leaving with extra cash every time he competes for the UFC. The rising bantamweight is eying a September return against someone ranked from No. 16 to No. 25.
Entering the top 15 is on his radar, but Yanez is confident one more win could help set him up to reach his mark. Yanez may be unsure where he sits exactly in the division, but having the champ watching closely is good for measure.
“This division is so stacked, you don’t really know where you’re ranked,” Yanez said. “When I get there and if he’s [Sterling] still the champ, he’s going to have his hands full.”