While 2017 was a good year for heavyweight prospect Jared Vanderaa personally with the birth of his daughter in April, professionally it was a less productive year.

After suffering a loss to Richard Odoms in June, Vanderaa was able to rebound in August against Idress Wasi, before closing out the year with a second loss in two bouts against Andrew van Zyl in December.

“It is disappointing, but it shows that there were holes in my game that I needed to work on,” Vanderaa told MMAWeekly.com. “For example, in Richard’s fight, the game plan we had going into it didn’t favor my cardio in a lot of ways. You have to take those losses and learn and better yourself.

“The fight with Andrew, I came into his home country in front of his fans and his people, so the cards were already stacked against me. I think the judges wanted to see more out of me. I think if I would have gotten a takedown in the first or second round, I would have been able to persuade the judges differently.”

Jared Vanderaa vs Vernon Lewis – LFA 35 Fight PosterFor his first fight of 2018, Vanderaa (6-2) steps into a late-notice fight against Vernon Lewis (4-3) on Friday in Houston, Texas, in a heavyweight main card bout at LFA 35.

“I wanted the fight because I was trying to get on an LFA card later in the month, but the guy they offered me didn’t want to fight me,” said Vanderaa. “I got a call from another promotion, but that guy didn’t want to fight. And the next day I got a call for this fight and took it. I was already preparing for this fight, even though I didn’t know I was going to have this fight.

“Because (Lewis has) been out so long, I’m not sure what he’s going to do. It’s going to be interesting to see where this goes. For me, this win is just a win. It looks good on paper, but I don’t think it will really boost me up. My plan is to get the W as fast as possible and call it a night.”

Looking to rebound in 2018, will accept nothing less than having a stellar year to get his career back on track and headed towards the next level of MMA.

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“I want to get four wins by the end of this year, all by finish,” Vanderaa said. “That’s my minimal goal this year. Four fights; four finishes; all spectacular, and hope the UFC comes knocking on my door.”