Adrian Yanez might be the biggest fan favorite at UFC Austin and his opponent, Tony Kelley is the reason.
Adrian Yanez has fought four times under the UFC banner. He’s 4-0 in those fights and has won a fight-night bonus award in each of those outings. The 28-year-old looks to make it five in a row when he faces Tony Kelley at UFC Austin in what turned into a catchweight bout when Kelley checked in on weigh-in day at 137.5 pounds for what was supposed to be a bantamweight scrap.
With Kelley missing weight, Yanez will take home 20 percent of Kelley’s fight-night pay. With his 100 percent fight-night bonus rate, Yanez stands a good chance of cashing in for another $50,000 on top of his pay and the 20 percent he’ll get from Yanez. The Texan might also be in the hunt for some additional scratch.
If you recall, Kelley was caught on camera uttering a phrase that, at beast, can be described as bigoted while trying to inspire the fighter he was cornering, Andrea Lee, at UFC Vegas 54 against Brazil’s Viviane Araujo.
“That’s what they’re gonna do, they’re dirty f—king Brazilians. They’re gonna f—king cheat like that. Guess what? We came to f—k somebody up,” Kelley said.
Kelley’s bigotry failed to inspire Lee. She lost a decision. However, it got the attention of the MMA world, including Brazilian UFC fighter Gilbert Burns, who offered Yanez — who has nine career knockout wins and was on a run of four straight knockout victories before going the distance with Davey Grant in November — a non-official bonus if he can finish Kelley on Saturday. To date, Burns’ tweet has been liked more than 2,780 times. With that it’s safe to say that Yanez will also have some support of others who are not offering him lucre.
Kelley, initially went with a “cancel culture is real” defense of his bigotry. Which begs the question, what was Kelley cancelled from since the UFC nor ESPN never even made a remark about his dunderheaded diatribe?
This week, the 35-year-old decided that it wasn’t so much cancel culture that was the problem, but that the person who tweeted out the video of his ridiculous remarks was to blame.
“That’s the last thing on my mind. If you go back and you actually watch the fight, everyone’s like ‘Aww, you’re a dumbass. Why would you say that on international television?’ Well, I didn’t.
“If you watch the fight, you’ll never hear it air. It was not aired. So somebody clipped that out and sent it off into the Twitterverse just to get at me.”
Then, Kelley, using logic befitting a teenage misanthrope and not a grown-ass man with the ability to function in society, said, “Actually, I dislike everyone equally.”
As for Yanez, he’s not buying the backpedaling.
“To me, I feel like that was along the lines of bigotry. That was the first thing that he went to. Usually, because I corner fighters all the time too, that’s never crossed my mind to immediately insult a whole country. So, to me, I look at that a little bit funny,” Yanez told the NY Post.
Yanez added that his intent in this fight was to knock out Kelley before he heard what he said, so his goal in the matchup hasn’t changed. What has changed is the number of fans looking forward to a knockout and Yanez thinks that’s all right.
“But the first thing he goes to is that, that’s when I’m just like, ‘I don’t know, bro. S–t’s a little bit weird. That’s the first thing you go to?’ I start giving you the side eye, start looking at you sideways. But again, it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been wanting to knock him out. And the only thing that changes is a lot more people wanting to see me knock him out. So I think that’s pretty cool.”
UFC Austin takes place at Moody Center in Austin, Texas. ESPN and ESPN+ carry the main card following prelims on ESPN2 and ESPN+.