Don Shainis plans to ‘come out of f****** left field’ to upset Sodiq Yusuff at UFC Vegas 61, take ranking spot


Don Shainis has the opportunity to shake up the UFC featherweight rankings on two weeks’ notice when he makes his octagon debut this Saturday.

Shainis will face Sodiq Yusuff at UFC Vegas 61 this Saturday. Shameless, a former Cage Titans featherweight champion and FAC lightweight champ plans to take advantage of this first promotional appearance. It’s one that he has been looking forward to since turning professional.

” Shameless will come from the sidelines, defeat Sodiq Yusuff and claim No. 12 place in the world,” Shainis stated to MMA Fighting. “F ****** was left out.

” Think about it this way: Other people receive their blessings much sooner than you. It was not my turn until [two weeks ago when I got the call].”

Shainis has overcome quite a bit in order to earn his UFC shot, which includes coming back from a severe neck injury suffered in a decision loss in April 2018. One year later Shainis was back in the Cage Titans cage, where he began four consecutive stoppage victories before the COVID -19 pandemic halted him for 15 more months.

The 31-year-old left Massachusetts and relocated to Missouri where he began training at Glory MMA, headed up by James Krause, and returned to action in July 2021 where he dropped a unanimous decision to Nathan Williams at Cage Titans. Since then, Shainis competed five times, earning five wins, four finishes, and two regional titles in two different weight classes.

All in all, despite feeling like he deserved a UFC call pre-pandemic, Shainis is grateful for how and when it finally came.

“I would’ve loved to get the call two years ago and already have my feet in the water, but I ain’t going to b**** about it, it is what it is, the pandemic absolutely [screwed] me over — professionally, financially, emotionally,” Shainis said. There is nothing I can do, but I tried my best. I fled New England and came to Missouri. It was an eye-opener.

“I’ve never had 20 guys in the gym, let alone one gym, five minutes away from where I stay, all under James Krause. Everyone here is hungry, everyone here has 10 fingers together trying to help everyone get over what they need to do. We have 50 pros on the mat, it’s a grind. You won’t be able to get this kind of training [in Massachusetts].”

Yusuff had been originally scheduled to take on Giga Chikadze in UFC Vegas 60, but Chikadze was injured and had to withdraw. “Super” is 5-1 during his UFC run, which includes a decision loss to Arnold Allen at UFC Vegas 23 in April 2021. The 29-year-old bounced back from his lone octagon loss 11 months later to defeat Alex Caceres at UFC Vegas 50 this past March.

Although he is the biggest underdog on the card, Shainis believes his style and pace can give the heavily favored Yusuff fits on Saturday.

“I think I accepted the fight before I even know who it was,” Shainis explained. “I don’t care. Look at it this way: I’ve got nothing to lose. What am I going to do? Keep fighting regionally for pennies? It was not my intention to lose on this sport, but that is what it is. As far as the opponent [goes], that’s just another name.

“I’ve seen him fight casually as a fan, I’ve seen him fight before. However, I was able to see his fight against Caceres and look at the Contender Series match. I believe this will be an interesting fight where he is a good striker but he begins slow. I’m so awkward and weird where my style of striking and grappling might not be pretty, but it’s effective. That’s the place I believe I will be able set the pace and continue grinding. The more I turn this into a dog fight, the better.”