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‘My job is to win’: Terrance McKinney looks ahead to Saturday’s bout against Fares Ziam at UFC Fight Night

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 22, 2022

Terrance McKinney, a Shadle Park graduate and former college wrestler, will face Fares Ziam on Saturday in the UFC Fight Night prelims in Las Vegas.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
Terrance McKinney, a Shadle Park graduate and former college wrestler, will face Fares Ziam on Saturday in the UFC Fight Night prelims in Las Vegas. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
By Charlotte McKinley For The Spokesman-Review

The wait is almost over for Terrance McKinney.

McKinney (11-3) is set to fight Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Fares Ziam (12-3) on Saturday in the UFC Fight Night 202 prelims at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

The fight was originally set for Nov. 20, for UFC Vegas 43, but was postponed when one of McKinney’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19.

“I was kind of sad, but God has a plan,” McKinney said. “I feel like I couldn’t train hard (in) that camp, so now I’m pushing myself extra, which is nice. I’m just using it as extra time just to channel everything and make a better statement that I came in with.”

McKinney, a graduate of Shadle Park High School, made his UFC debut against Matt Frevola (9-3-1) on June 12, and knocked him out with a left cross to ground-and-pound combination seven seconds into the first round. McKinney took that fight on eight days’ notice after he headlined and beat Michael Irizarry Ortiz (12-4) on the Legacy Fighting Alliance 109 card.

On a four-fight win streak, McKinney is looking to be a well-rounded, mixed martial artist. “It’s either going to be on the feet or looking for that good, clean takedown,” he said.

Before transitioning to MMA, McKinney was a standout wrestler at Shadle and North Idaho College, and later, Division II Chadron State during the 2014-2015 season.

That experience gives McKinney confidence on the ground despite finishing his last four fights standing.

“At the end of the day, my job is to win,” McKinney said.

It was not always that way. In 2015, McKinney overdosed on drugs, flatlined twice on the way to the hospital and had to make reparations for what he did.

That is now a distant memory.

“He has grown tremendously since the day he first walked in the gym,” said Pablo Alfonso, coach and owner of Warrior Camp where McKinney trains.

“We click, man. We’re like Batman and Robin. He’s my main guy,” McKinney said of Alfonso. “If I listen and trust my coach, we can get the job done because he can see things that I won’t see out there in the cage.”

Alfonso speaks very highly of his athlete.

“He trains for hours every day and fights for just minutes. He’s very playful and fun during training (but) very focused and serious for the fights,” Alfonso said.

The fight with Ziam is no exception as both fighters are looking to extend their win streak.

Ziam stands at 6-foot-1 compared to McKinney’s 5-10 frame. Ziam has the physical advantage in arm and leg reach, but McKinney has proven that he can take care of himself despite any physical disadvantages, claiming a higher significant strike average and a lower significant strike absorption average.

“I think every matchup is a challenge. How do we take two trained athletes on the top of their game and pull the W? That’s the question for every match and every fight. We take every fight seriously,” said Alfonso.

UFC Fight Night 202: Bobby Green vs. Islam Makhachev can be viewed with an ESPN+ membership. The prelims, where McKinney faces off against Ziam, start at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

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