Rani Yahya Just Can’t Get No Respect

The Rani Yahya Train Keeps on Rollin’

‘I just can’t get no respect’. A famous Rodney Dangerfield bit, the thought circling the mind of Rani Yahya every time he runs through another opponent. In his 10+ years haunting the WEC/UFC  featherweight and bantamweight divisions, wins have rolled in like the tides at Omaha (I assume). He has defeated the likes of Mark Hominick, Eddie Wineland and Mike Brown all while sealing victory with 19 career submissions. Yet, no one seems to pay Rani Yahya any mind.

With that I ask, what’s the point?…with any of this?

If a 15 year veteran of the game can unassumingly strut into the cage and finish opponent after opponent and be given a simple pat on the back without any real recognition of his accomplishments, what are we doing here?

And listen, I guess I understand. He’s not talking shit or knocking guys out with extreme precision. So, in the eyes of many fans, he’s not particularly fun to watch and I can cope with that.

What I cannot and will not empathize with is the utter disrespect this man gets. Rani Yahya may not be your brand of butter. But he is of the utmost reputable and dependable variety. Wins flock to him with ease yet somehow the masses look past it. This past weekend at UFC Orlando, it happened again and i’m disappointed to report, I fell victim to the same trap I hold disdain for. There were so many great performances, I had to leave him out of the ‘top 3 performances list’. For that I repent.

The Dominance of Rani Yahya

It’s not as if this is anything new. But the past few months have been banner ones for those who pride themselves on their grappling and Rani Yahya is the latest to catch my eye.

His bout with Russell Doane was as dominant a performance as we’ve seen this year (it’s only been 2 months but still). And the third round submission brought me to my feet with adoration. It’s easy enough to grind out a decision, to wear your opponent down and break their spirit. But to battle through your own mental demons, fatigue, and finish the job you’ve been given is what makes a true champion.

With that win, Rani Yahya is now 9-2 over his last 11 fights and has just three losses since 2010. That display of consistency is neck and neck with the most impressive runs through a division we’ve seen but still no respect is shown to Yahya. Is it his innocuous look? His small stature? His humble and modest approach to the game?

Well, i’m guessing those all play a part.

But why should we feed into those excuses? Rani Yahya has time and time again proven that he belongs at the top of the division but because he doesn’t look like John Linker or talk like Cody Garbrandt, he can’t get those opportunities to prove himself. Now i’m not saying the two men mentioned above are overrated or over-hyped. Simply that they were given shots early into their UFC careers that allowed them to move up the ladder.

But Rani Yahya, after a decade of brilliance is relegated to fighting middle-of-the-road bantamweights on preliminary cards. I hate to see it but I doubt it will stop anytime soon.

He Just Can’t Get No Respect

There it is. That’s his motto.

Rani Yahya is 6-1 over the past few years and the ladder to the top seems to be insurmountable. No matter how many opponents he bends, breaks and decapitates, Yahya will be a No-no on the UFC’s list–name pun, love it.

True fans will get behind him and the filthy casuals will overlook greatness as it passes them like two ships in the night. But it’s kind of nice that way. MMA has become so mainstream that it’s rare we true fans get to share something without a casual ruining it. So maybe that’s the silver-lining. We get to watch Rani Yahya compete. Maybe that’s all we need.

For Yahya, he should embrace it. Because this is the good stuff. It’s not about the belt or the money. It’s about the journey, it’s all about the climb.

You see, “Only the ladder is real, the climb is all there is.”


And you thought I couldn’t sneak a Game of Thrones quote in there….


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