We can say we knew him "back when".
As some of you might recall, a while back I did an interview with Mike Yanez, owner of Highlander MMA in Louisville, Kentucky. You can find that here.
When I spoke to Mike at the MMA Big Show: Relentless, where he ref'd all the fights, he let me know about some big news he had. I held back on it at the time because he said details were being finalized, but now it's out in the open, so I thought I'd let you all know.
Mike has been named the Head Trainer of the XFC.
Check after the jump for all the details.
From the XFC Website:
Head trainer and professional Mixed Martial Arts fighter Mike Yanez led his Kentucky-based Highlander MMA Camp to a 101-30 combined amateur and professional record – and an incredible winning percentage of 77% – over the past few years, earning Yanez industry-wide acclaim as one of the rising superstar trainers in the sport. One of the industry leaders who has closely followed Yanez’s string of victories is John Prisco, the president of Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) – the Southeastern-based MMA promotion that MMAJunkie.com credited with being “the best kept secret in the sport.” Following a nationwide manhunt to upgrade XFC’s training staff, Prisco announced today that Yanez has accepted the position of head trainer at XFC’s MMA training facilities. Yanez will begin working immediately with all of XFC’s professional and amateur fighters.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of the XFC, the fastest-rising MMA organization in the United States,” said Yanez. “And after competitively wrestling for eight years – and earning my black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ten years ago from legendary world champion Pablo Popovitch and his father Jorge Popovitch of the Carlson Gracie side of the Gracie family tree – I firmly believe that my training qualifications and career résumé speak for themselves; no trainer wins 101 of his first 131 fights on a fluke. The Mixed Martial Arts are my one true passion, and I’m 100% dedicated to transforming dedicated fighters into unstoppable world champions. I’ve been following the XFC for quite a while now, and they clearly have multiple fighters on their roster who are right on the cusp of stardom. Hopefully I can play a role in helping them reach to the top of the mountain.”
John Prisco was effusive in his praise of his company’s most recent addition: “I’m deeply proud of all the past and current trainers here at XFC, but opportunities to hire a rising superstar trainer like Mike Yanez don’t come around every day. It’s not just the lineage of his BJJ black belt that makes him so special – it’s his uncanny ability to motivate young talent, instill his technical mastery in his pupils, and develop a program that wins nearly 80% of its matches. Look, there might not be any shortcuts to success in this sport, but Yanez sure makes the path a heck of a lot shorter. We’re honored and privileged to have him in XFC.”
Prisco recently mentioned these training facilities in his most recent entry on MMA Junkie.
And our gyms – I've got to mention our XFC training facilities! Our first gym is located slightly north of downtown Tampa, and we're in the process of opening multiple XFC-branded gym franchises throughout the Southeast. In addition to MMA-themed gyms being incredibly popular right now among the general public (why in the world would anyone go to a one-discipline dojo to learn self defense when top-notch MMA training is available?), almost everyone who trains – or knows someone who trains – at our facilities becomes a goodwill ambassador for XFC. They wear our shirts, hats and merchandise all over town, taking pride in their affiliation with XFC. A good many of them bring their friends, neighbors and kids to all of our shows and become part-time promotional members of our team. In the very near future, we envision each new XFC gym franchise playing an instrumental role in not just providing us with a pipeline of new talent but also providing us with a pipeline of new fans. And vice-versa.
Mike is a definitely a BJJ standout, and based on his team's fighting record, there's no doubt he knows how to motivate fighters.
I think the fact that the XFC is opening a line of gyms is yet another indication that they know how to capitalize on the growing sport of MMA, and securing a guy like Yanez shows they're serious in their commitment to the sport.
I don't there will be much of a concern with XFC branded fighters fighting in XFC events. The way I understand it from the website, it seems more like the XFC fighters are the ones who are locked into more exclusive contracts with XFC, and that many of them train with their own teams, but are given the opportunity to train at the XFC training facilities.
Congrats to Mike on this great opportunity - given this development, I'm even more interested to see what the XFC has to offer. They're definitely one of the top-notch growing promotions, and I'm interested to see where they go from here.
The XFC noted that Mike will immediately begin working with all of the XFC's pro and amateur fighters, and Mike's teaching skills will once again come into the spotlight this Friday when one of his longtime students, C.T. Turner, takes on Brett Chism. The event will be broadcast on XFC's website for $9.99.
I'll be talking to Mike again in the future, so look for updates from him on XFC developments and how his new role with XFC is taking shape.