Back in July of 2016, Jackson-Winkeljohn student Lando Vannata made a short notice UFC debut against one of the best lightweights in the world: Tony Ferguson. Though Ferguson was expected to blow through his debuting foe, this is not the way things went down.
Twice in the fight’s first round, a surprisingly confident Vannata was able to push his experienced foe to the very brink of a stoppage. In the second round, Ferguson was able to shake off the cobwebs and lock up a d’Arce choke for the win, but Vannata’s performance immediately earned him a reputation as a fighter to watch in the UFC lightweight division.
When Vannata went on to land a knockout of the year contender of the veteran John Makdessi at UFC 206 in December, he solidified his status as one of the division’s hottest prospects.
With his strong showing against Ferguson and incredible knockout of Makdessi in the rear-view, Vannata is keen to keep climbing the lightweight latter. The next step of his climb will see him take on David Teymur at UFC 209. If he passes this test, he’s hoping for a big step up in competition.
He explained his goals in a recent interview with FloCombat.com.
“I’m going to sleep David Teymur and then try and get a top 20 guy and continue to progress from there,” he said. “I want to try and go top 20, top 10, top five with good highlight [reel] finishes in each one. That’s what I’m looking for this year.”
Vannata went on to explain that he hopes his upward climb through the lightweight ranks will lead him to a rematch with Ferguson, who is scheduled to take on Khabib Nurmagomedov for the interim lightweight championship at UFC 209.
“F*ck yeah,” Vannata said when asked if he wanted to rematch Ferguson in the future. “That’s one that I try not to hold onto anything or keep that brick in my pocket, but yeah, it’s one I want to get back in the future.
“I’m going to keep climbing up the rankings, and in time, me and Tony are going to meet again and it’s going to make for a good story – I can’t f*cking wait for the day.”
How do you think a Lando Vannata vs. Tony Ferguson rematch would go? Sound off, PENN Nation!