Motivational quotes are a staple of sports. Whether it’s Vince Lombardi saying, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing,” or Grantland Rice saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” athletes often adopt a phrase or saying to help push them to the next level.
Legacy Fighting Alliance bantamweight Adrian Yanez takes his motivational quote from a very familiar source: his father. Although Yanez’s father passed away a few years ago, the lessons he passed on to his son continue to shape Yanez’s career to this day.
“One thing my dad always said was, ‘When there’s a will, there’s a way,’” Yanez said. “When I would come home from training and I had a hard day, he would tell me that if I really wanted something, there would be a way to find it.”
Yanez applied another of his father’s lessons to his social-media game, frequently posting “#Rocksteady” on his Twitter account.
“I always go back to that,” Yanez said. “He would tell me that if you want to be great, it doesn’t matter what’s happening. You have to be steady as a rock. Things are going to come at you, and you just have to stay steady as a rock.”
After Yanez lost a close split decision in his LFA debut last year to Domingo Pilarte, he thought of another saying from another familiar source. In this case, it was UFC middleweight Lyoto Machida.
“That fight made me take a step back and realize I can’t focus on just one thing,” Yanez said. “I remembered something Machida said about only looking at one tree in the forest, because you really like it. But then you miss the rest of the forest, because you’re just looking at the one tree. But the rest of the forest is really beautiful.
“I’ve been taking some steps back and working on having fun again. When you stop having fun, you start dreading going to the gym and dreading training.”
Yanez’s loss to Pilarte also made Yanez realize that he had to keep working on his mental and physical skill sets.
“I don’t think I lost the fight, but I thought I mentally beat myself,” Yanez said. “My focus was everywhere else that night. I planned to fight again right after that fight, but I spoke to my coach and knew I had to focus better.
“[Pilarte] was really pressing his takedowns. If the judges scored their points based on hands, then I thought you could give the fight to me. But if they scored it for the wrestling, then they scored it for Pilarte. But even though he kept trying to take me down, I was already scrambling back to my feet.”
Yanez, whose record now sits at 6-2, rebounded from his loss to Pilarte with a win at LFA 26 last year. He was scheduled to fight Miles Johns at LFA 35 on Friday, March 9. However, Johns had to withdraw from the fight. Now, Yanez will face Nathan Trepagnier, who holds a 4-3 mark.
“I was a little bummed out, because I knew Miles was going to bring it and would want to fight,” Yanez said. “This was going to be a big fight for us. It’s likely one of us was going to get a title shot or maybe even called up to the UFC. I know we both had to be on our A-game for that fight, so I don’t blame him for dropping out.”
The late change in opponent hasn’t affected Yanez’s mindset. The improvement of his mental game has been the focus of his training camp. Yanez believes he has options after his fight with Trepagnier, including a drop to flyweight, but he plans to take it just one fight at a time and continue to enjoy his stay in the LFA.
“They’ve been treating me very well,” Yanez said. “They treat everyone with respect, and it’s a phenomenal organization to be a part of. I think it’s the UFC, then Bellator, then LFA. I’ve been able to meet a wide range of people here.
“When it was just Legacy [Fighting Championship], it was mainly based in Texas and Louisiana. But when the merger with [Resurrection Fighting Alliance] happened, we went all the way to California. I didn’t know it would go that far out and still be a prominent organization. It’s kind of surprising, because other organizations will rise quickly, then fall a little. But LFA still rises, and you can trace a lot of guys in the UFC back to LFA and Legacy.”
Yanez hopes to be among those guys soon. As his father would say, “When there’s a will, there’s a way.”