And though Yan has heard all about the first-time UFC jitters, the 25-year-old is calm, cool and collected at the moment.
“I don't really have any nerves right now but, of course, closer to the date it may start bothering me,” said Yan through a translator. “I will focus on not thinking about it and I believe once the Octagon door shuts, there will be no nerves.”
Nerves have not been an issue for the Omsk product as of yet in a career in which he’s won eight of his nine bouts, avenging his lone split decision loss to Magomed Magomedov last year. And with that business settled, Yan got his call to the big show.
“I feel this is the perfect time,” he said. “I won and defended the belt in my previous organization (ACB), proved that I'm the best there and now I'm ready to crash the rankings in the UFC.”
Yan is an ambitious sort, coming a long way in less than five years as a pro, but he’s no combat sports neophyte, having become a Master of Sport in Boxing, a sport he competed in since the age of 13. But seven years after putting the gloves on for the first time, he moved to a new pair of gloves in the world of MMA.
“I saw more career potential in MMA rather than in boxing,” he said. “The fact that in MMA you can strike, wrestle or go for submissions, the richness of available techniques, and the opportunity to mix it up makes it very attractive. I fell in love with this sport from the beginning and I enjoy doing it.”
“Russia always had a rich history in combat sports and a good base in amateur sports,” Yan said. “And MMA is becoming more and more popular. In fact, only soccer is more popular than MMA in my country. MMA been developing for a while in Russia now, so seeing more Russian fighters doing well in UFC is a logical outcome. But I think it's only beginning and more Russian fighters will make their mark in UFC.”
Sounds like perfect timing for the UFC’s first visit to Russia in September, and if Yan has his way, he’ll win on Saturday, come out unscathed and make a quick turnaround to fight in Moscow.
“I think it's an important first step and hopefully more events will follow,” he said. “It will mean a lot and I really hope to be the part of the first UFC card in Russia.”
But first up, it’s Ishihara in Singapore. And “No Mercy” will be bringing the heat.
“Expect a high-paced, exciting fight from me,” Yan said. “I will try to make a good first impression and go for the finish.”