Hawaii’s own Yancy Medeiros (15-8, 1NC) will fight at home for the first time in over a decade at Bellator 279.
It’s an opportunity the former UFC star campaigned for, and one he was lucky enough to land. He also has a high-profile opponent for his promotional debut in the form of former featherweight title challenger Emmanuel Sanchez.
The significance of the occasion is not lost on Medeiros. “It means everything. I’m always the guy going out, trying to represent my island, and hold it down, and I’ve been in enemy territory. I’ve been to Brazil and I’ve indulged in the fanaticism, and I was like ‘wow!’ To get the opposite end of it, I know Hawaii holds it down like that too,” he told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview.
In his words, the lightweight battle against Sanchez is “a gift,” one that makes him “want to be more happy and give more Aloha and give everybody a show. It was meant to be. What’s happening now was meant to be.”
For this to happen after so many years, a lot of puzzle pieces had to come together. Looking at it another way, his old home, the UFC, had to fail at puzzling out the Hawaiian market. The UFC has never been to the island state, despite having Hawaiian champions like B.J. Penn and Max Holloway rise to stardom over the years.
As to whether that was a missed opportunity, Medeiros agreed that at some level, it was — but he also understands the business side of the equation.
“I believe when it comes to the fighters and the opportunities to fight and represent, yeah, that was a missed opportunity. But business is business, and in the end it always comes down to money,” he suggested. “Whether it’s the government, whether it’s the venue, I’m just happy that Scott Coker, it’s more than just the money. It’s about Bellator and Scott looking to give the people a show.”
Putting on a show is key for Yancy Medeiros. For years, Medeiros had friends and family follow him across the country to watch him fight. “The least I could do is give back to them. When the contract came, I signed it. I just wanted to fight here. I never looked at, would it have a lot of fights, how much money— for me, I wanted to perform for my island and for my fans.”
At least initially, Medeiros’ contract with Bellator MMA is a one-off. “It’s a one-fight deal. I was just happy with whatever Scott Coker was going to let me do to perform here. Let me prove myself, let me show I am a businessman and I am here to entertain, and we’ll go on from there. But right now the objective is to give the fans and everyone a fight, just show me, and know that I’m ready to swing and the kid is back.”
“I haven’t had the best performances these last years,” Medeiros continued, adding that “I’ve just been like a crack addict, just working at it, working at it, working at it non-stop. And I was meant to be here. More than ready, just ready to swing, ready to kill.”
And that’s as far as Medeiros will go in terms of a prediction. “No predictions, no expectations, a lot of intention. If I ain’t trying to rip your head off, I’m trying to yank it off. It’s always the intent, kill or be killed. Simple. I have a lot of Aloha inside and outside of the cage, but when I’m in there, I’ll kill you with a smile if I can.”
As much as he doesn’t want to overlook his opponent, Medeiros does want 2022 to be a busy year inside the cage. “I definitely want it to be a busy, competitive year for me, in whatever venue that is. I’m over here just trying to take care of my responsibilities. Whatever promotion picks me up is whoever picks me up. Right now is my time to show what I’ve been trying to get better at.”
Yancy Medeiros faces Emmanuel Sanchez at Bellator 279 this Saturday, April 23, 2022 at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii.