Terrance McKinney could jump on the lightweight fast track if he’s able to pick up his second victory in the past three weeks at Saturday’s UFC Vegas 50 event in Las Vegas.
Fresh off of a first-round submission from Fares Ziam at UFC Vegas 49 in late February, McKinney is now set to face Drew Dober on the March 12 card – a fight he accepted on short notice after the opponent Dober’s original Ricky Glenn withdrew due to injury.
“I was so grateful for this opportunity, and for [Dober] even to take the fight, man,” McKinney said Monday on MMA hour. “Because I know he has two losses [in a row]and that’s why I’m so grateful for this opportunity, because he could have chosen anyone else.
The fight presents a huge opportunity for McKinney, which is rising quickly. The 27-year-old prospect has already generated plenty of hype for his 2-0 start in the octagon, which kicked off in June 2021 with the fastest finish ever by a UFC lightweight when McKinney knocked out Matt Frevola in just seven seconds in his promotional debut at UFC 263.
Ultimately, McKinney’s hot start — coupled with his willingness to jump into the Dober fight on about a week’s notice — also earned him a raise.
McKinney said Monday he has two fights left on his previous UFC contract but was able to renegotiate a new and improved deal ahead of UFC Vegas 50.
“It was a no-brainer once I got hit on that one,” McKinney said with a smile.
“A small pay raise can never go wrong.”
Saturday’s game is important for McKinney, as an opponent with Dober pedigree offers him a chance to shorten the line at 155 pounds.
Dober was on an impressive 6-1 run and ranked in the bottom half of the UFC lightweight rankings before a recent two-fight drop to Islam Makhachev and Brad Riddell. Still, Dober’s only losses in the past five years have come against ranked contenders, and whether it’s Nasrat Haqparast or Alexander Hernandez, he’s managed to keep many newcomers from using him as a springboard.
But McKinney is determined.
“My goal is to be top-10 in the world before the year is out, and I was like, yo, he’s pretty much top-15 in my eyes,” McKinney said. “And I was like, if I can come here and make a statement against him, that’s going to put me on the right path to where I want to go.
“I think they’re going to put me at least 15th in the standings [in I win].”
For McKinney, the opportunity against Dober is one he believes he “manifested” when he publicly volunteered to fight the veteran several months ago when Dober was initially looking for a fight. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time McKinney has spoken of a goal.
“I used to always say I was going to be a state champion, but I sucked at wrestling. And we ended up doing it twice,” McKinney said. “And then I said I was going to be in the UFC, Herb Dean said when I met him, and then he ended up [refereeing] me at the UFC. And I said I wanted to be an All-American at least once, and I ended up All-American at the FILA Nationals. Like I said, I keep seeing this happen.
So what is McKinney’s next big goal that he plans to manifest?
To become UFC lightweight champion, of course.
“Next year,” McKinney promised when asked what schedule he was considering.
“Without a shadow of a doubt. … At this rate, maybe even faster.
“I didn’t say he was just going to hand it to me,” McKinney added. “That’s why you see me every day at the gym. You gotta go to work, you gotta go get it.