Enrique Barzola to stay at bantamweight, open to Rani Yahya rematch after fighting to a draw at UFC Brasilia

Enrique Barzola to stay at bantamweight, open to Rani Yahya rematch after fighting to a draw at UFC Brasilia




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Enrique Barzola feels strong at 135 pounds.

The winner of season two of The “Ultimate Fighter: Latin America” made his bantamweight debut on Saturday night at UFC Brasilia, fighting to a draw against longtime veteran Rani Yahya during the preliminary portion of the card.

Despite not picking up win in his first time out at 135-pounds, Barzola (16-5-2 MMA, 6-3-1 UFC) plans on sticking around at this new weight.

“I felt very strong, maybe the part of the strategy didn’t workout because I thought Rani Yahya would look for takedowns from far, but instead he went body-to-body and we saw what went down,” Barzola told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “But I was always attentive (on the ground) and at 135 I feel great. I feel strong, resistant, and I’m going to keep advancing.

“That division is going to be mine moving forward. I’m going to stay at a reasonable weight to be able to cut with no worries. I used to weigh 77, 76 kilos (169, 167 pounds) and go down to 66 (145), but now I can’t drop 15 kilos (33), that’s too much. I cut 11 kilos (24) for this fight and that was a lot. So now I have to stay around 70 kilos (155) with the diet.”

Barzola and Yahya fought in an empty arena, as Brasilia had banned all public gatherings in hopes to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in the nation’s capital. It was a hard-fought affair between the two, but the AKA product thought he did enough to get his hand raised.

“I did a bad move in the first round, second round I thought I won, and third round I definitely won,” Barzola said in regards to his scoring of the fight. “The first round was his, the second was close, and the third I won. But yeah, that’s how fights go. I have to try to be more convincing next time and keep moving forward.”

The Peruvian fighter is open to a rematch with Yahya, who expresses plenty of interest in running the fight back, but wouldn’t be opposed to taking on someone else, just as long it’s a good name.

“If they book the rematch, I’ll accept just like any other fight,” Barzola explained. “And if they put someone else in front of me, that’s fine as well.

“My body now recoginzed the weight, 135 pounds. I’m with a team and staff that really supports me. I have a nutritionist and condition coach who’s helped me get to this level without draining myself and still being strong. And yeah, if they put me in for the rematch, that would be great. But if not, I’ll prepare for someone else.

“I’d like to face a top fighter like Pedro Munhoz or someone of that caliber.”

With coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and around the globe and the next three card canceled, it is uncertain when the schedule will pick up again. But if all goes well, Barzola would like to return in the summer.

“I think the best thing for my body would be to fight in three months, that would be ideal,” Barzola said. “My body is fine from the fight, but I don’t want to stress my body with the cut, so I’m keeping my body at a good weight and be ready to return.”

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