LAS VEGAS – Darrick Minner’s remarkable finishing streak may have come to an end, but his unanimous decision victory at UFC Fight Night 185 showed that his momentum is trending in the right direction as he looks to make his mark in 2021.
Minner (26-11 MMA, 2-1 UFC) who had previously finished each of his last 13 career victories via submission, earned scores of 30-26, 30-27, 29-27 to defeat fellow grappling specialist Charles Rosa at the UFC Apex on Saturday night. Despite not being able to find his customary submission finish, Minner said the bout panned out exactly as he, and his team, expected.
“I am exhausted! I don’t go to decision, but I’m glad I know I can,” a smiling Minner told reporters, including MMA Junkie, backstage after his win. “That was the big thing. I’m just overriding with emotions right now, and it was exactly how we thought it was going to go.
“I tell you guys, this fight went down to the tee how we thought it was going to go. (I’m) not saying that I wasn’t going to go for the finish, because that’s what I was doing, but we knew how it was going to go. Two hours before the fight, James Krause said exactly how it was going to go, to a tee, and that’s how it went.”
Minner revealed that his respect for Rosa’s skills meant he knew he would be in for a tricky test in their featherweight bout, and he revealed that he was suitably impressed with Rosa’s composure in difficult positions as Minner tried in vain to finish his rival on the canvas.
“The dude’s tough, bro,” he said. “There were some arm-triangles that were super-tight. From his previous fights you know he doesn’t get tapped in there very often. I don’t know if he’s a fish or what, but damn, that dude can hold his breath! He’s just a tough S.O.B. and I’m glad I can get in there and show that, even though I have so many fights, I’m new here, I belong here, and that’s all there is to it. I’m here to stay.”
Now three fights into his UFC career, Minner said he feels like he’s established himself as a legitimate threat in the promotion’s 145-pound division, with his dominant display against a respected name like Rosa delivering a statement to those who felt he was too one-dimensional to rise up through the featherweight ranks.
“I think that fight just solidified it, man,” he said. “Everybody’s like, ‘He’s a one-trick pony. He’s first round or bust. Blah, blah, blah.’ No more. I just beat one of the top 20 guys in the division. Charles Rosa’s been around for a long time and he had this hype behind him because he’s so tough. He went to split decisions with some top guys, some top 15 guys in the division. The only other guy to put on a better performance against him was Bryce Mitchell. We both got 30-26s. I think Bryce got a 30-25. I don’t think I have to justify it.
“Last weekend I was watching the pay-per-view and the main card came on and I didn’t even know I was on the main card until last weekend watching the fights, and I was like, ‘Holy sh*t!’ It’s just so surreal. I’ve been so close for the longest time, and now I’m just starting to build this momentum. I don’t think I have to justify it – I just like saying it, I think. I like saying, ‘I’m in the UFC.’ I’m 2-1 in the UFC and my only loss is to my teammate (Grant Dawson), who’s going to be a world champion. So, say what you will.”
Minner paid tribute to his head coach Krause and credited him for helping take his career to the next level as he stuck to their pre-agreed gameplan and didn’t let his natural instincts take over during the fight.
“I had the guillotine locked up in the second or third round and I didn’t jump for it, because my coach said no,” he explained. “That’s a proud moment of mine, because two fights ago I would have jumped on that all day. We had a gameplan and I stuck to it through and through. Probably that’s the first time I’ve done that in my career. I’m just getting better and, like I told everybody, my fight I.Q. is improving. That means I’m a dangerous mo-fo in here!
“I’ve been at this sh*t a long time, and I’ve just been with him for two fight camps. We’re the most underrated team in the world, and we have the best coach in the world. Kevin Croom next week – underdog, I’m sure – he’s going to pull off a win, too.”
Minner also had a message for those who set him as the underdog heading into the fight, and also to those who smartly backed him to pick up the win.
“I don’t feel like the underdog, because I know I’m gonna win,” he grinned. “But that’s two fights in a row that I’m the underdog. Like I said, I hope you put money on it. And if you did, congratulations! DM me, I’ll send you my PayPal! If not, I hope you lost your ass! It’s like I told everybody, because everybody keeps counting me out and I’ll keep showing out. Let’s go.”