Zach Zane is on the verge of the big leagues.
The Hawaiian mixed martial artist picked up his 11th professional mixed martial arts victory in February, defeating Kris Berberich by toe hold at Alaska FC 145. The win was Zane’s seventh consecutive victory, all by way of stoppage, and was enough to move his career record to 11-7.
Now competing anywhere between featherweight and lightweight, Zane was scheduled to make his ONE Championship debut against Jimmy Yabo at ONE: Warrior’s Dream in November 2018, but a failed medical test kept him from realizing his dream.
Speaking to John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock, Zach Zane shared insight as to what happened before that ONE Championship event and talked about his ambitions for 2019.
“We had a mandatory CAT scan before we do fights and stuff. I did my cat scan prior to even going to Indonesia, so I thought everything was all good, but they found some, it’s called arachnoid cysts in the back of my head. The doctor said I was most likely born with it.”
“For ONE FC’s liability issue. I can’t fight for them due to liability. You know, they had a death occur on their show, so they’re pretty on it with health and stuff, and which sucks because man, I was ready for the big leagues.”
Although Zane missed out on his opportunity to compete in ONE Championship, he’s already looking ahead to bigger and better opportunities elsewhere – namely the UFC and Bellator.
“I talked to some people and I could still fight in the UFC, and I could still fight in Bellator. It’s just like certain commissions might have a problem with it, but it’s not even really a big deal. I just fought, I just had a full fight camp. I just fought main event, you know, it is what it is. It was just another test of my faith, like, you know me, I’m a man of faith. I believe in what I don’t see. And I keep on going.”
Zach Zane after winning #AFC145 main event:
“I went through some stuff with my health. We all have highs and lows. Through it all you just need to persevere and fight through it. I know it gets hard, but if you fight through it, your blessing is on the other side of the door.”
— Jake Nichols (@JakeNicholsMMA) February 14, 2019
The call-up to ONE Championship was to be a defining moment in Zane’s career and would have been his greatest opportunity yet. Despite having it all taken away due to circumstances out of his control, Zane admits that he has been able to accept it and move forward with his career.
“I felt like I died,” Zane shared to John Hyon Ko.
“I’m not gonna lie. I, I truly honestly felt like I died. But at the same time, it humbled me. Because maybe I needed that at this time in my life. I took it like a man and I just accept anything negative in my life, I’ll take it in and, you know, MMA, you can keep letting it out positively. I’m telling you, this is my heart, my love. I feel like Bruce Lee’s spirit is in me. I have no hate to nobody. I just love fighting. I love martial arts. I love getting better. I love learning. I love growing, meeting new people throughout the journey. So humbling, it’s truly humbling.”
Securing a win at Alaska FC
After a missed opportunity with ONE Championship, Zach Zane made his way back to Alaska Fighting Championship, a promotion that he has become very familiar with in recent years. Zane slid into the main event of Alaska FC 145 after a bout between Tyler Milner and Charlie Johnson was canceled a day prior.
As always, Zane came out firing, and once he secured an early takedown, the fight shifted completely in his favor. After Kris Berberich escaped a guillotine choke, Zane positioned himself for ground and pound before latching onto an exposed foot. For Zane, that’s the perfect opportunity to crank the foot with a toe hold submission.
Zach Zane (10-6) has now finished six straight, as he taps Kris Berberich with a nasty toe hold! “God’s Warrior” has stopped all his wins, eight by submission, and seven in the opening frame. #AFC145 pic.twitter.com/87vIrs8nu1
— Kyle Johnson (@VonPreux) February 14, 2019
“This is something that I do. I do that all the time, especially in half guard,” Zane explained.
“If I’m hammer fisting and we’re just training, I’ve done it so many times to where if that flash of feet is by my face, I’m like, hey, I’m going to take that, you know?”
“And the kid I fought was very athletic and he’s coming off a really high-level fight. He just knocked out an 8-0 guy or something or prospect and he knocked him out cold. I just looking for his right hand. But that’s all. That’s all he had. He was athletic and he had a right hand. But this is MMA, mixed martial arts, so you gotta be ready for all aspects of it. You know, every level, every aspect of the game.”
Staying ready for the Contender Series
It’s never been smooth sailing for Zach Zane throughout his professional career.
Zane lost his two first mixed martial arts bouts in 2015 but was never dissuaded. He competed four more times in a span of a little over three months, winning two of four, and moving his record to 2-4 in his first six bouts. By March 2017, Zane was a 4-7 professional and was yet to make a major impression. Ever since then, however, Zane remains undefeated through seven fights, winning five by submission and two by KO/TKO.
“It feels surreal,” Zane shared.
“It doesn’t feel real to me. I watched the tape and I’m like, oh my God, that’s me… And then I look, wow, this guy’s evolving. I’m in a third person’s perspective, you know? And I watched myself outside of myself and if I was my dad, I would be proud of this kid. You know what I mean?”
“I’m not going to stop though. I’m still young. I’m on the streak and I’m working to get on the Contender Series, try to shoot for UFC… I’ve been talking to BRAVE. It’s whatever, you know, whatever big organization or a high-level fight, that’s what I want. I want to be tested. I want to get bloody and cut up and, and rocked, you know, I want to feel that. It’s been a while and I feel like that time is coming, but, but everybody’s going to see my heart too.”
Zane’s hanging on for a call-up to Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, but will need to wait until construction of the new The Ultimate Fighter Gym is completed. Last year, the UFC purchased the building next door to the UFC Performance Institute, to extend their already incredible facility. The new season of The Ultimate Fighter will be filmed in the new gym, and so will Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
For when that time comes, Zach Zane will be ready.
“The new institution is under construction right now. So I’m going to wait. They’re going to wait until it’s fully done to start shooting and airing. The guy told me to stay ready, be ready, because when that time comes to go to Vegas, I have to be ready. That ain’t no game, you know? This is everything that I worked for.”
Watch Zach Zane’s full interview with John Hyon Ko below, and subscribe to Kumite TV for more interviews.
Jake Nichols is The Body Lock's Editor in Chief. Previously, he was the MMA Editor at RealSport.