Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

As soon as Terrance McKinney saw his opportunity, he sprung into action.

It was this past Friday, and Ricky Glenn had fallen out of his bout against Drew Dober at UFC Vegas 50 due to injury. McKinney was less than a week out from his own big win, a first-round submission over Fares Ziam on February 26 at UFC Vegas 49, but he reached out anyway, because why not?

“I saw [Glenn] was out and I texted my manager — and they were already on it,” McKinney revealed this week on The MMA Hour.

“The ball was already in motion.”

McKinney, 27, had been keeping his weight low after beating Ziam, just in case a chance arose to jump back into the fray. After an eight-month layoff that had dragged on far too long between his UFC debut and sophomore effort, the lightweight up-and-comer hoped to return to action quickly, whether in two weeks or two months, so he stayed around 170 pounds.

The decision paid off. McKinney landed the short-notice fight against a respected contender in Dober — and a potential chance to shortcut the line into the top 15 of the UFC’s lightweight rankings. “T.Wrecks” said Monday that he was already down to 163 pounds with days still left to go, and after doing plenty of film study on Dober, he and his coaches believe they have found the perfect blueprint for another highlight-reel outing.

“We did our studies, we’ve got the game plan, and we’re just going to push the pressure like we always do. Come in their face and let’s fight,” McKinney said. “I think I’ve got the range, I got the height, so I’m just going to use those to my advantage — make him have to do something big, and look for nice counters.

“I can’t expose [Dober’s weaknesses we discovered], but just know that everyone should expect something spectacular this weekend … We can get another finish, 100 percent.”

The start of McKinney’s UFC career has certainly been spectacular so far. Before crushing Ziam, he debuted in June 2021 with the fastest finish ever recorded by a UFC lightweight when he smashed through Matt Frevola in just seven seconds at UFC 263.

McKinney said Monday that his goal is to be ranked within the division’s top 10 by the end of the year, then become UFC champion by the end of 2023. They’re ambitious goals, although the UFC certainly appears to be investing into McKinney’s future — the Chicago native inked a new contract for the Dober fight despite having two fights left on his old deal. It’s all been a whirlwind, but for McKinney, it’s also only the beginning.

“I actually just really enjoy fighting and it’s just fun to compete, man,” McKinney said. “I’m like a little kid at the candy store when I get to go out there, because it’s just so surreal every time, and it’s just like a miracle every time, and I’m so grateful, man. Every time I’m out there, I’m like, man, this can’t get any sweeter than this.

“A couple years ago, I didn’t even have my own place. I died twice. I got kicked out of school. Like, I had no choice but to make this happen, man,” McKinney continued. “And for it to happen finally? That’s why I always stay in shape, because I refuse to let this go, man. This has been my dream for so long.”

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