Diné MMA fighter bounces back from adversity


After the fans made their way home and the Diné Event Center at Twin Arrows Casino Resort had nearly cleared, Randy Yellowhair took a moment to himself.

Randy Yellowhair, a professional Navajo MMA fighter from Chinle, Ariz., won his first match since 2016 on March 17 at Diné Event Center at Twin Arrows Casino Resort. Yellowhair defeated Noland Hyland with a rear naked choke hold.

About a year ago, Yellowhair a Navajo MMA fighter, had made the decision to keep on fighting after some tough losses in this last return to the sport. Yellowhair had taken a break and hoped to make a comeback and things didn’t go that well. But this time, they did.

“Right after the fight, when everybody as gone, everything calmed down, I kind of took a moment to myself,” Yellowhair said. “And realized if you push hard enough, you can accomplish anything. That day and that night in my room, I thought, ‘wow, I actually worked hard for this, trained hard, and now I’m sitting here as the winner.’”

Yellowhair defeated his opponent Nolan Hyland in the lightweight matchup after placing him in a rear naked choke hold, forcing him to tap out. The fight was sanctioned by the Arizona Boxing & MMA Commission.

Yellowhair said from the initial look of Hyland, it was anticipated to be a highly interesting match.

“If you look at his picture, this guy looks more muscular and bigger, and I just looked like this skinny little Navajo kid,” Yellowhair said. “But it was really good. We waited back and forth and kind of tested each other. I wanted him to test me, to punch me, to hit me, we spent 30 seconds throwing leather. I connected on a few shots and he tried to take me down, and I reversed him and tapped him out in the first round.”
It was the win Yellowhair had long hoped for since 2016.

Back then the 32-year-old Chinle native, who now lives in Pleasant Grove City, Utah, had just made a comeback after adversity, but fell short yet again picking up three losses.
Yellowhair said after his third loss, he was at yet another crossroad.

“I just wanted to prove to everybody that I was back. That’s what I wanted to prove in the last fight, but he (opponent) was more prepare than I was, he was the better fighter that night,” Yellowhair said. “So I took some time off and I really, really started to think about my career, what’s next. What do I do from here?”

He sat down with his wife, Kelani Yellowhair, and made some realizations.

Yellowhair said he wasn’t ready to let go of the sport just yet.

“My wife and I we sat down with on another and said that if I was going to train, I was going to train the right way,” he said. “Last time I wasn’t doing proper training and eating. I gave myself enough time to change my diet, I really changed my way of eating.”

Kelani Yellowhair said she remembers the moment they sat down together and the realizations made.

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Categories: Sports

About Author

Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi

Sunnie Clahchischiligi has been the sports writer for the Navajo Times since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from the University of New Mexico. Before joining the Times, she worked at the St. Cloud Times (Minn.), the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, Sports Illustrated Magazine in New York City and the Salt Lake Tribune. She can be reached at sunnie@navajotimes.com or via cell at (505) 686-0769.