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Vannata Knows Greatness Takes Time

“A good friend of mine told me the other day that simple styles come to fruition pretty quickly and they figure themselves out pretty quickly. But more dynamic, more diverse styles…greatness takes time."

“It’s been real nice being able to fight at home. Being able to sleep in my own bed every night, hang out with my dog, just relax and take it easy, not to be stressed out with traveling halfway around the world…it’s been great.”

It has been six years since Lando Vannata has had a fight in his adopted home state of New Mexico, and he’s clearly relishing every second. To him, the horror stories of every person a fighter knows wanting a piece of their local hero this week are of no concern.

“I delegate those roles to my coaches,” he laughs. “They handle all the friends and family and everything.”

From New Jersey to Florida, the lightweight has lived in all corners of the East Coast, but it’s clear in speaking to him that Albuquerque is his home.

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It has been six years since Lando Vannata has had a fight in his adopted home state of New Mexico, and he’s clearly relishing every second. To him, the horror stories of every person a fighter knows wanting a piece of their local hero this week are of no concern.

“I delegate those roles to my coaches,” he laughs. “They handle all the friends and family and everything.”

From New Jersey to Florida, the lightweight has lived in all corners of the East Coast, but it’s clear in speaking to him that Albuquerque is his home.

“It’s been great out here. I’ve been here nine years now. I moved out here when I was 18 to train by myself. I’ve been here ever since. I love it, man. It’s changed me so much for the better. Turned me into a man. Made me grow up. See life in a different way.”

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 28: (R-L) Lando Vannata kicks Marc Diakiese of England in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Royal Arena on September 28, 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 28: (R-L) Lando Vannata kicks Marc Diakiese of England in their lightweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Royal Arena on September 28, 2019 in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via G

Vannata speaks in a calm, low-key manner that makes his nickname “Groovy” sound more like a holdover from the 60s hippies that co-opted the word.

“It was great getting out of Florida and coming here. Coming to the mountains. Coming to the desert. Coming to where we have four seasons. I’m a big outdoors person, so I really enjoy it.”

Of course, it’s when you review Vannata’s chosen profession and resumé that the peace and love associations come to a screeching halt. A feared, unorthodox striker, Vannata’s first four UFC bouts each saw him going home with bonus money; win, lose or draw.

Speaking of losses and draws, folks hearing Groovy’s name for the first time might be confused as to what the hype is about if they were to just look up his recent record.

“I’ve got one of the weirdest records in the UFC, for sure. Some bad judging, some bad nights from myself. Life lessons,” he concedes. But in this reality, Vannata is philosophical.

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“A good friend of mine told me the other day that simple styles come to fruition pretty quickly and they figure themselves out pretty quickly. But more dynamic, more diverse styles…greatness takes time. I’ve had to go through a lot, both in the cage and out of the cage. It’s taken a lot of time to get where I am right now. But I’m very, very confident in my skill set and what I’m able to accomplish, and I’m looking to show a beautiful return.”

There’s an excellent chance to begin that beautiful return this weekend. 

“When they called me with this fight, I had just woken up. My manager says ‘Hey man, Yancy Medeiros at home February 15.’ I just grinned from ear to ear. Just stoked. I love fighting people with big names. I love high-profile fights. That’s what makes me feel alive. So being able to get this fight when I got this fight? It really made me feel good.”

It made fight fans feel really good, too. As word of the bout began to make its way around,  prognosticators across the MMA spectrum predicted it to be the Fight of the Night, without hesitation.

Vannata is flattered, but begs to differ.

“I mean…I guess to the fans it’s Fight of the Night because they see that Yancy and myself both have these attitudes where it’s like ‘All right, if you’re gonna throw, I’m gonna throw. Let’s go then.’

“In my mind, it’s not Fight of the Night, it’s Performance of the Night."

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