On the preliminary card of UFC 226, flashy lightweight Lando ‘Groovy’ Vannata takes on Drakkar Klose in a fight having ‘Fight of the Night’ potential written all over it.
It’s been around nine months since Vannata has stepped inside the octagon. Vannata had to take some time off as he dealt with some rough situations in his personal life.
“I was really really down,” Vannata (9-2-1 MMA, 1-2-1 UFC) told MMAjunkie ahead of his FS1-televised preliminary card clash with Drakkar Klose (8-1-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC). “Really, I was in a dark place, having a really, really hard time. Dealing with bad anxiety, panic attacks, depression. The whole nine.”
However instead of succumbing, Vannata took help of his family and a therapist to get his mind back in the right place.
“I have a smile in my face because it’s part of life,” Vannata said. “It’s adversity. It makes you stronger. I’m a better person because of it. The main lessons are learned during those times.”
Vannata is definitely one of those fighters who hasn’t reached his full potential yet. He made his UFC debut back in July 2016 against then #3 ranked and former UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. Even though Vannata lost the fight via second round submission, he earned a lot of praise due to performance in the first round, hurting Ferguson multiple times and almost finishing him. Since then, Vannata won his second fight via KO due to a spinning wheel kick against veteran John Makdessi, lost a battle against David Teymur and his war against Bobby Green was declared a draw.
Vannata earned $50,000 bonus in all of those four fights. Vannata however is more concerned about getting a ‘W’.
“If I lose, I get 50k, that’s cool, but what the (expletive) does that mean for my career?” Vannata said. “Cool, I set a record? But now I’m 1-2-1 in the UFC. That’s not good.”
“I used to be a little bit douchy; I got humbled a little bit,” Vannata said. “I’m a better person because of it, as well. So no, (my UFC run) doesn’t bother me. I’m happy about where I’m at. I’m excited about where my career is going.”