Darrick Minner (Marshall Boyce/Combat Press)

UFC Vegas 64’s Darrick Minner: ‘A Lot of Holes in His Game’

MMA records, or even fighting records in most combat sports, can be pretty nebulous. It’s no secret that some fighters’ combat histories are either highly over-reported or highly under-reported. In Muay Thai, kids will start fighting at least monthly in their teenage years, so by the time they hit the pro circuit, they are already seasoned professionals. The same thing can happen in Russia, where fighters will show up with 3-1 records, but fight like they have 30 fights under their belts. Depending on where the fighter is from, this can actually be somewhat common. However, the opposite happens as well.

Former UFC light heavyweight Askar Mozharov finally made his promotional debut last June. However, just prior to his fight with Alonzo Menifield, his 25-7 record came under scrutiny. After he lost his debut, his new records with Sherdog and Tapology were changed to 15-14 and 17-13, respectively. This is just one high-profile example of a fighter with a questionable record.

UFC featherweight Darrick Minner has a completely verifiable record. And, looking at it closely, it’s pretty damn impressive. On the regional scene, he has wins over top regional prospects like Marvin Blumer, Bill Kamery and Clay Collard, while losing to some bigger names in Kevin Croom and Jordan Griffin. In the UFC, he has two wins and three losses, and his last loss was a decision against BJJ ace Ryan Hall. It was a fight he feels he could have finished.


“I could have just knocked him out, you know?” Minner told Combat Press. “The takedown was easy, man, and when I got in there, and I had him hurt, and I’d take him down. It was just instinct. I kind of allowed my emotions dictate it, instead of what we game-planned for and what [UFC veteran and Glory MMA head coach] James [Krause] was telling me. At that point, I just didn’t adjust as well as I should have been in the fight. It was alright.

“I mean, I stuffed his first submission, and his first leg lock, and I got up and I was like, ‘Fuck this dude. He can’t submit me.’ I think it was just one of those things where somebody’s talked about for so long – how good they are. And then, when you’re just like, ‘Fuck, you ain’t gonna do nothin.’ I think I shouldn’t have gone into that mode. I don’t even know if it was emotions. That’s just kind of how I fight, you know?

“That allowed him to play his game. I do think I was a lot closer than what the scorecard showed. I do think that they gave him too much credit. I don’t know if it was the fans’ reactions every time he went for a submission, or if the ringside personnel were just so in love with him. I just I feel like it was closer.”

Minner fought Hall in Dec. 2021, and he is not a guy who likes to sit on the bench for very long. In fact, since his pro debut in 2012, he has fought as many as seven times in one year, and no less than two times in a year. The Nebraska native was scheduled to fight Damon Jackson last June – coincidentally, the same card as Mozharov’s debut – but he had to pull out due to a training accident.

“I got hurt for the Damon Jackson fight, three weeks out,” said Minner. “I just cracked heads, man. I ended up getting a concussion – like, we cracked heads pretty hard, and I ended up with a concussion. I wanted to fight, but the doctors, coaches and managers said, ‘no,’ because of the situation. This longest I’ve ever gone without fighting, man.

“I feel like that was just such a great match-up, stylistically, and it was such a fun fight. I had a lot going on, you know? We had another baby two days before I got injured and got the concussion. We had our youngest that was just born, so I had a lot on my plate. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. Maybe it wasn’t. I do like that fight in the future, so I definitely would like to get that one back. We’ll just see what happens.”

Well, later in the summer, Minner found out about his next opponent, China’s Shayilan Nuerdanbieke. He was excited for the fight, and welcomed the challenge on Nov. 5 at UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs. Lemos – also known as UFC Vegas 64. Although, the fight wasn’t really finalized until a couple months ago.

“I love the match-up,” Minner said. “We accepted it right away, and then they had some visa issues, and, next thing I know, a couple weeks later, I got a bout agreement. I knew that I was fighting Nov. 5, but his name was the one that was talked about, but it was in question.

“I know he likes to wrestle and go to decision, and, you know, he has a lot of fights. He’s pretty decent. He throws hard. He’s pretty wild on his feet. He goes for the takedown, and likes to hold people and look for the grappling aspects of it.

“I think we’re going to get in the grappling exchanges, and he’s going to realize that I’m just a better grappler. I’m a better submission artist. And, I’m going to attack in every fucking position we get in, unlike guys he’s fought in the UFC. The only fights I can find on him are the three fights he fought in the UFC. So, he’s fought three strikers, and he’s 2-1. I just feel like there’s a lot of holes in his game, and I think there’s a lot of holes in his grappling. I think that’s what’s going to happen in the fight. I think I’m going to get in there, and, grappling-wise, I just feel like I’m a better submission grappler than he is. And, if we get on our feet, I think I’m going to be able to just be in and out, and not get hit with the crazy bombs.”

The 28-year-old Nuerdanbieke made his pro debut in 2016, three years after Minner made his. Minner is now 32 years old. However, the Chinese fighter has a whopping 48 fights on his record, with 38 wins and 10 losses. However, his record shows some odd information. For example, when he was 13-2, he beat a guy making his pro debut, and, when he was 14-3, he lost by first-round submission wot a guy who was 0-1. Those are only two of several questionable match-ups. Since joining the UFC, he has been to decision three times, with a loss to Josh Culibao and wins over Sean Soriano and, most recently, T.J. Brown. Minner has some questions regarding Nuerdanbieke’s record.

“He had a couple tough fights that trickled in there at the end, before he got into the UFC,” Minner said. “There’s a couple in there that have good records, but how tough they are, we don’t know. You’re 26-4, and you’re fighting a 0-4 dude? Get the hell out of here. No commission in the U.S. would even approve of that. It’s crazy to me that that happened. Look at my record.

“My last 15-20 opponents are guys that have really good records, are in the UFC, or have been in the UFC. There’s a couple here and there that are rebound fights, but the majority of my fights are guys that are tough. Maybe that’s what they do over there. I think it’s like the Wild, Wild West, like it was back in the day in Omaha, Neb., in 2005, when you’re fighting people in a ballroom, and your guy pulls out, and a guy in the crowd cuts off his jeans, is six beers deep, and walks in the cage. My first-round submissions are Terrance McKinney, Clay Collard, T.J. Laramie. Guys like that, I mean, it’s just a different level, man.”

Well, on Saturday, Minner is going to put Nuerdanbieke to the test, as he brings that grizzled veteran style to the cage. He has been around the block more than a few times, and has faced all different types of competition. He will be aggressively looking to get his UFC record back to .500 by upsetting the –210 betting favorite.

Minner and Nuerdanbieke will serve as the feature fight on the preliminary card at UFC Vegas 64. The event airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ starting at 4 p.m. ET.