Ray Yee is a busy man this week.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Yee, one half with Chris Luttrell of Albuquerque’s Luttrell-Yee MMA & Fitness, left for Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday. Saturday on a UFC Fight Night card at UFC Apex, he’ll work the corner of Luttrell-Yee fighters Jordan Espinosa and Jerome Rivera. He’s also part of “Team Cowboy,” having helped train Edgewood’s Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for his fight Saturday against Niko Price.
This kind of juggling act, Yee said in a phone interview, is not unprecedented. Five Luttrell-Yee fighters fought (and won) on an LFA card at Route 66 Casino Hotel on Jan, 17.
That, though, was essentially a home game. To be on the road with three fighters, especially on a UFC card with COVID-19 precautions in effect, is a challenge.
“It’s a matter of balancing the needs of whoever’s up first,” Yee said, “making sure you bring the proper staffing to be working with one fighter while you’re out (in the arena) with another fighter.”
Luttrell, who’s among the sport’s founding fathers in the state, isn’t making the trip. But Yee won’t be alone.
Rivera’s fellow Santa Fean, Josh Montoya, will work his corner with Yee.
MMA veteran Damacio Page will help Yee corner for Espinosa.
Team Cerrone, Yee said, consists of five coaches.
“So we’re well staffed,” he said, “and it’s just a matter of switching from one moment to another as soon as one fight’s over, whether being a head coach or one of the coaches.”
Rivera (10-2), a flyweight (125 pounds), was a late addition to the card. Signed to a UFC contract just days ago, he’s scheduled to face veteran Tyson Nam (19-11-1) in the first fight on Saturday.
Espinosa (15-7), also a flyweight, is scheduled to face David Dvorak (18-3) in the sixth fight of the day.
Cerrone (36-15) is scheduled for a co-main event against Price (14-4) in a welterweight (170-pound) fight.
Cerrone is an underdog in early betting against Price, seven years his junior, as is Rivera against the far more experienced Nam. Espinosa-Dvorak is a tossup.
Never tell Yee the odds.
“We see a lot of openings in Tyson’s game, as well as in David’s for Jordan. And Niko, we see a lot of openings that we’re gonna take advantage of.”
A Portland, Oregon native, Yee came to Albuquerque in 2002 and quickly established himself as a mainstay in the city’s martial arts community. He
merged his Albuquerque Kickboxing with Luttrell MMA about three years ago.
“It’s been a really good camp for all three fighters,” Yee said. “Especially for Cowboy and for Jordan, it’s been a really phenomenal camp.
“Then, Jerome’s been involved in Jordan’s camp, helping him prepare, so he’s good to go.”