Rani Yahya drops back to bantamweight, fights Johnny Bedford at UFC Fight Night 39

Jason da Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Brazilian submission specialist Rani Yahya is returning to 135 lbs to take on TUF 14's Johnny Bedford in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Coming off a disappointing loss at the TUF 18 Finale, Brazil's Rani Yahya is switching weight classes once again. Having spent his UFC career at featherweight, Yahya has decided to drop back to bantamweight for a UFC Fight Night 39 encounter with Johnny Bedford. Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting says the fight is confirmed, although UFC officials haven't formally announced the bout.

Yahya (19-8) fought the majority of his WEC bouts at bantamweight, including a win over Eddie Wineland and an unsuccessful title shot against Chase Beebe back in 2007. Before joining the UFC, the 29-year-old was flattened by Joseph Benavidez and then dropped a decision against Takeya Mizugaki. The 2007 ADCC gold medalist won 4 of his first 5 in the UFC, but his last outing saw him lose a split decision to Tom Niinimaki in November.

Bedford (19-10-1) hasn't competed since a UFC 159 guillotine choke loss to Bryan Caraway with just 16 seconds left in the final round. His previous two UFC bouts were dominant knockout wins over the woefully undersized Louis Gaudinot and Marcos Vinicius. Submission defense has been a massive problem for Bedford in the past, as he's tapped out in 9 of his 10 defeats. Yahya has submitted his opposition 15 times out of 19 victories, but has only recorded one in the UFC.

UFC Fight Night 39 is set for April 11th on UFC Fight Pass, and will be headlined by a heavyweight bout between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Roy Nelson.

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