Exclusive: Lando Vannata Talks New Contract, Charles Rosa Mishap & His UFC 234 Opponent

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Fresh off his new four-fight deal with the UFC, lightweight Lando Vanatta steps back into the cage on Feb. 9 against Marcos Rosa Mariano at UFC 234.

For the 26-year-old, testing free agency wasn’t something that crossed his mind as he was confident a new contract with the Las Vegas-based promotion would happen.

“I figured [the UFC] would want to re-sign me. I’m a pretty exciting fighter, I put on a show every time I step into the cage,” Vannata told MMA News in an exclusive interview.

“I wasn’t too surprised they came back looking to re-sign me to a new deal. I was keeping my options open but I figured they would want to [re-sign me] and if the figures were right then yeah I would go back. The UFC had exclusive rights [to negotiating].”

Vannata (9-3-2) is proof that being exciting in the cage will ensure job security in the UFC. The Albuquerque resident has gone on a bit of a slump his last five fights going 1-2-2, including a draw against Matt Frevloa at UFC 230 in November. Pundits were suggesting a weight class change could be the right move for Vannata. It certainly looked that way for a few hours earlier this week as inaccurate reports surfaced on social media that he would be fighting featherweight Charles Rosa on this card. When the news came out, Vannata was very confused.

“I [signed the contract] fighting a newcomer, Marcos Rosa. Alright this is the guy, this has got to be him. I was like 90% sure this was the guy I’m fighting. When social media came and I saw the Charles Rosa posts, I’m like ‘wait I’m fighting this guy? I have to double check’ it caught me off guard. I had to go the ESPN website, I saw they had Marcos Rosa, I was like ‘ok, this is the guy.’ I had go to look at the contract again.”

Mariano (6-4) makes his UFC debut on Feb. 9 and has won four of his last five fights. He’s coming off a first-round TKO victory over 2-3 fighter Alessandro Taiete de Matos at AFT 15 in October. The 32-year-old has finished six of his 10 career opponents. Vannata likes the style matchup and believes he’ll mentally break his opponent when they clash at UFC 234.

“I think I’m a tough fight for anybody. I’m excited to welcome him to the UFC. I think you guys are in for another hell of a show. I’m looking to leave that in the cage. I plan on mentally breaking this guy, I want to break. I want to snatch his soul. It’s one of my favorite things to do in fighting. Wrestling, fighting, it’s just making somebody quit. That’s what I want to do in this fight.”

UFC 234 takes place at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The main event pits middleweight champion Robert Whittaker defending his title against Kelvin Gastelum.