We close out the month of November with one more offering from the UFC APEX, with Saturday’s fight card featuring a host of promising talents and competitive matchups, and capped by a bantamweight clash between Ketlen Vieira and Miesha Tate.
Before the former champion makes her second trip into the Octagon of the year to continue her comeback and potentially take another step towards fighting for the title again in 2022, a trio of emerging competitors, each at different stages in their respective climbs, will return to action, looking to build off impressive performances that catapult them further up the divisional hierarchy.er Holloway suffered an injury in training camp, this has been, and remains, one of the most intriguing non-title affairs on the UFC schedule this year — a clash between a pair of all-action fighters with championship ambitions, indelible spirits, and bottomless gas tanks that has Fight of the Year candidate written all over it.
This week’s assignments are the pairings that could carry each of the three into position to receive a major step up in competition when they hit the Octagon for the first time in 2022, so why not familiarize yourself with them a little more before that transpires?
This is the November 20 edition of Fighters on the Rise.
A perfect 14-0 as a professional with the last four of those victories coming inside the Octagon, Brady is fully recovered from the gnarly foot infection that forced him out of a clash with Kevin Lee in July and ready to return to action, stepping in on Saturday night with veteran Michael Chiesa in the co-main event of the evening.
The man UFC analyst Paul Felder aptly refers to as a “brickhouse” earned quality decision wins over Court McGee and Ismail Naurdiev in his first two trips into the UFC cage, but has ratcheted things up another level over his last two outings, securing submission wins over Christian Aguilera and Jake Matthews. A Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under Daniel Gracie, the 28-year-old Brady is a compact, powerful fighter that plays to his strengths and has thus far seemed unflappable, handling each assignment thrown his way with aplomb while gradually working his way up the welterweight ladder.
In facing off with Chiesa, the Philadelphia-based emerging contender gets to share the cage with an established name and a Top 10 fixture; someone that opened the year with a main event win over Neil Magny and currently sits just outside of the Top 5 in the 170-pound ranks. It’s also a second consecutive opportunity to face off with an outstanding grappler and show just how impressive his skills on the ground are after out-hustling, and ultimately submitting Matthews.
Brady was projected to be a potential contender when he first arrived in the UFC and has looked the part thus far, but now is when things get challenging. Chiesa is by far the most talented and experienced fighter he’s faced to date, and he enters off a loss, which means he’ll be extra feisty and bent on making a statement.
But with that challenge comes a massive opportunity, because if Brady can push his winning streak to 15 and pick up a fifth consecutive UFC victory, he’ll close out 2021 as a member of the welterweight Top 10 and kick off next year in the thick of the title chase in the 170-pound weight class.
Three fights, three wins, three finishes, three bonuses — that’s what Yanez has done to start his UFC career.
After earning a contract with one of the cleanest knockouts in the history of Dana White’s Contender Series in the summer of 2020, the 27-year-old from Houston debuted last Halloween with a first-round head kick finish of Ray Rodriguez. Just under five months later, Yanez returned to the Octagon and made Gustavo Lopez pay for questioning his skills and scoffing at the level of competition he’d faced, and in July, he rallied from a rough opening stanza to collect a second-round stoppage win over Randy Costa, extending his overall winning streak to seven.
This weekend, Yanez faces British veteran Davey Grant in the kind of fight that feels designed to determine if the emerging bantamweight is ready to take the next step forward in the talent-rich division or if he requires a little more seasoning. The veteran from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England has also won a bonus in three straight, collecting Performance of the Night honors for his knockout wins over Martin Day and Jonathan Martinez before teaming with Marlon Vera to land a Fight of the Night bonus when they clashed in June at the UFC APEX.
It’s hard not to get abnormally excited about Yanez and his prospects because, thus far, he’s shown everything you’d look for in an up-and-coming talent, brandishing swift, sharp hands, grit, toughness, and resolve, as well as being a good dude who continues to be awed by the attention he’s received. He has displayed zero ego thus far, and while being brash can bring the spotlight quicker, these humble cats can be every bit as dangerous, even if they’re not letting you know about it 24/7.
Bantamweight has never been deeper and there are a ton of gifted young fighters pushing for a place in the rankings at the moment, and yet Yanez has still managed to stand out above the pack. The fact that Grant’s last bout came against Vera, who just punched his ticket to the Top 10 with a stoppage win over Frankie Edgar at UFC 268, tells you where the TUF alum stands in the hierarchy, as well as how highly the UFC thinks of Yanez.
If he can get through this one, he’ll enter 2022 on the cusp of cracking the Top 15, and if he does it with style points, he could very well vault himself to the top of the list of emerging names to watch in the 135-pound ranks going forward.
Terrance McKinney has already registered four wins in 2021, yet he’s spent less than two minutes inside the cage this year.
After earning impressively quick first-round finishes in March, April, and early June, the Spokane, Washington native hustled into the Octagon for his short-notice promotional debut at UFC 263, and promptly laid out veteran Matt Frevola in seven seconds to extend his winning streak to four and instantly establish himself as someone to watch in the UFC lightweight division. As soon as “The Steamrolla” lifted his foot to throw a range-finding kick, McKinney uncorked a one-two that landed flush and put Frevola on the deck.
The 27-year-old returns on Saturday against Fares Ziam, a tall, rangy youngster on a two-fight winning streak inside the Octagon, in a bout designed to see which of the emerging talents continues moving forward and which one is forced to take a step back to close out the year.
What’s most interesting about McKinney’s string of rapid, highlight-reel finishes is that he’s more known for his wrestling than he is his striking, having excelled in high school and pursued the sport collegiately before transitioning to a career in the cage. He hasn’t needed to show it of late, but he earned six of his first seven wins by submission and was wrestling well against Sean Woodson on the Contender Series in the summer of 2019 before eating a flying knee from the towering Missouri native.
McKinney is the kind of dynamic athlete that could very well grow by leaps and bounds the more time he commits to spending in the gym and the more he tests himself against high-level competition. He’s quick, strong, and clearly has knockout power, and if he’s got any of the tenacity fellow Spokane representatives like Chiesa and Julianna Pena possess, “T. Wrecks” could follow them into the Top 10 in the future.