POST WEC 28 INTERVIEW: ADCC 2007 UNDER 65KGS CHAMPION, RANI YAHYA TALKS WEC DEBUT(6/3) AND ADCC CHAMPIONSHIP CONQUEST
DENIS MARTINS: Rani, what did you think about WEC 28's promotion?
RANI YAHYA: I think they are the best. They are the same as the UFC's owners, so their production is the best. The show is very well organized and the fighter has a lot of attention. We stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel, one of the best Las Vegas hotels. The event had
also a big publicity because on Versus open tv showed it for the whole USA.
DM: What can you mention about your strategy on this fight of WEC 28 against Mark Hominick?
RY: He is an outstanding striker, so my intention was to take him to the ground to put him in my field. My plan was to shoot a double leg and if he sprawled that, I would press him against the fence to drop him. However his strategy was to circle me with a step back when I shoot, so he could have the accurate distance to hit me. And he did! He knocked me down and after this I fought with my instinct.
DM: You went after him crazily, was this a very risky movement?
RY: Yes, you are right. But I was dizzy and only for this reason I tried to take him down repeatedly. In the time of the knockdown and after that, my body only flowed.
DM: Did you watch the Urijah Faber's fight?
RY: No, I did not.
DM: He is the current champion, so a future battle involving you two may happen, right?
RY: I am certain this fight will happen. My deal is the belt of WEC, so I want to face whoever possesses it and they put in front of me.
DM: When are you fighting again?
RY: I only want to fight in August, in the next WEC. And I want to fight the Jiu-Jitsu and Submission tournaments too.
DM: Talking about submission, at last month you won the ADCC 2007 under 65kgs category. You have a history on this event already. What kind of feeling you have since first appearance in ADCC Brazilian Trials 2003 to this glory at ADCC 2007?
RY: In 2003 I was a teenager, 18 years old, and when I realized, I was going to fight in the same category of fighters who I admired in my whole life such as Royler Gracie and Leonardo Vieira. This was obvious I was not ready to be a champion, but this was great to understand that anything is so far of our wishes. In 2005 I had good fights against Marcio Feitosa and later that final of 50 minutes against Vieira; on that occasion I got frustrated for not getting the nod. But after becoming an ADCC champion this year, I saw all of these fights like experience to arrive in the top.
DM: Before ADCC you were too much focused in MMA. This training to MMA supported you to compete better in ADCC 2007?
RY: The BJJ inserted to the MMA training is much more intense, so the pace that we dictate in the fight is intense too. These trainings were a huge differential for me at ADCC 2007. I felt I was faster than my opponents, and the trainings for MMA guide you to look for submissions and not for points. During my all matches I was thinking on submitting my opponents, the points were a consequence of this effort to submit. A good example of that was my fight against Barret Yoshida, he was the guy who I did not submit, however I arrived in several good positions to finish him and the points 'came' naturally, without any perception of me. He is a tough opponent, a guy with a huge heart!
DM: How do you analyze your moment's career with this ADCC award?
RY: No doubts this is the best moment of my career as a fighter. I did not have more enthusiasm for the gi competitions due to the awards I wanted and conquered on this sport, like Brasileiro, Pan Arm and Mundial. ADCC does not represent only the bigger tournament for the BJJers, this is for all community of grapplers. ADCC was by main goal.
DM: You lost two Vieira twice at ADCC, did you the feeling of revenge against him?
RY: I did not have this feeling. I face the fact of being defeated in a fight such as learning. If we lose it is because is lacking something to our game and we need to fix mistake and add new tools. I feel like I have to thank all of the opponents I had - the ones I lose and I beat - because all of them taught me a piece of what I used to win the ADCC 2007.
However the fact of facing Vieira on the finals was the opportunity of being face-to-face with the truth. Inside my head I wanted to face him and become the champion, be a champion without beating him would not have the same weight for me. He was the number one, so there is no place for two numbers one, there can be only one.
DM: Talking still about Vieira, was your goal to submit or submit?
RY: My goal is always to submit. BJJ in my opinion in a chess game and we need to go to the checkmate. I only train without time limit, imagine a play chess with time limit between 6 or 7 minutes- we would never see a checkmate, we would never know who is the best. Of course a fight without time limit is unaviable, so strategy is a high weapon. In my opinion the ADCC rules are good because you can play chess in the time where the points are not scored. A lot of fighters stall the fight in first half, I see the opposite, I see the first half the chance of trying the submission.
Speaking about Vieira, I tried to submit him with several movements, guillotine choke, ankle-lock, heel-hook if I did not submit him it was because there was something wrong done by me or he was defending very well. This fight had a huge mental fatigue, more than physical.
DM: Was the final match the toughest fight of the tournament?
RY: It was. Vieira is a creative and smart fighter, in the whole fight I felt advantages over him and I felt he was tired, but even so he kept himself putting me in trouble. I had to have a lot of patience to disentangle of him and keep the pace, the pressure, looking for his mistake.
DM: After ADCC- will your main focus be the MMA?
RY: Yes, it will be. But I will try to compete in other modalities like the submission and BJJ. I want to compete at FILA's event, the MUNDIAL of BJJ in California, without and with gi. I love to compete!
DM: With this WEC's deal in your career, how will be the HERO'S you fought in 2006?
RY: My contract with them was only until 2006. I fought in a heavy category for me (71kgs) at HERO'S and at WEC I fought in 65kgs category, which is better for me. I believe WEC will be the best event for lightweight guys like me.
DM: Did you feel pressure on fighting MMA being the ADCC World champion?
RY: I did not. The reason I compete MMA is because I love to step in a ring and fight. So I do not feel any kind of pressure.
DM: Last words?
RY: I have to thank all, and only thanks for all! This is the best moment of my fighter's career and I did not arrive here alone. So I want to thank my family, my coaches and each of the persons who made positive vibrations for my ADCC championship and for my WEC debut. I will not mention names, because the list is giant!(lol). I also want to thank OnTheMat.com and Health Plus.