Behind the scenes at UFC 277, Yair Rodriguez and his manager negotiated with Alexander Volkanovski and his team about a potential title shot. Rodriguez had just beaten two-time title challenger Brian Ortega, and he believed he deserved a fight with the featherweight champ.
There was nothing committed to paper at or after that pay-per-view. Volkanovski, after all, still eyed two-division gold. The Mexican challenger was not happy with the decision to choose Volkanovski over Rodriguez. The champ received a social media message asking him to clarify his decision.
“[It was] not a promise,” Rodriguez said on The MMA Hour. We had a conversation with his manager [and they said],. He asked him if he would travel to Australia to face this man. This is what we do. How could I possibly say no to this?
“I thought that we had, not a deal, but we talked about it, and I thought he was going to say OK, let’s go. But he would rather go for 155. I don’t blame him. He has a better chance to win than fighting me and that’s why I admire him. I think he’s doing the right moves for his career, and that’s it.”
Volkanovski will now face Islam Makhachev, a lightweight champion in UFC 284.. The same day the fight was announced, Rodriguez got the call to play backup, facing Josh Emmett for an interim title in the co-main event of the Feb. 12 pay-per-view in Perth, Australia.
It’s unusual for the UFC to put up a division’s interim belt at the same event on which its champion is fighting for another undisputed belt. Rodriguez sees it as the last step towards his ultimate goal.
“This photo isn’t the definitive Yair Rod reacts to UFC 284 interim Title shot: ‘I kinda saw it coming so I didn’t really care.
,” he said. I understand that this bridge is what it means. It’s the final decision to go for the belt. If Volkanovski is unable to return to 145 due to some reason, then the belt will be awarded to me. If I don’t get to actually fight for the actual .”
belt, I will not feel champion.
Rodriguez’s decision to take on the interim strap presents a challenge for his team. He must obtain travel visas in order to get down under as soon as possible. It is important to adjust as quickly as possible due to the time difference. This process can take up to two months in such a climate.
” “As soon I can get it done, I will be there as soon I can so that I can adjust to the time and give a better performance,” said he.
Rodriguez hasn’t yet scouted Emmett for an opponent. However, the two trained briefly together under Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. Emmett defeated rising UK competitor Arnold Allen to win the interim chance. Rodriguez did not question Emmett’s merit.
” I think anyone who deserves to be the champion shot is good enough,” he stated. We are at the top of our division. We are all good. Each of us are good at our jobs and deserve this opportunity. It was Josh Emmett who offered it to me. I accepted immediately, as I know you won’t be able to turn down an opportunity such as this. It’s up to you .”
to keep moving forward.
Rodriguez’s career took some well-documented turns after he bucked the UFC on his choice of opposition; he was briefly cut from the promotion in 2018 after reportedly refusing to face then-rising contender Zabit Magomedsharipov. He returned to the promotion and went 2-0 with one no-contest – including a “Knockout of the Year” winner against Chan Sung Jung – before his win against Ortega, which put him back in the win column after a decision setback against ex-champ Max Holloway.
Being a company man has now paid dividends for Rodriguez, which is something he’s not about to question.
” “I feel very happy,” he stated. It’s an amazing opportunity, and I don’t think anyone should turn it down. It’s a really big opportunity for me, and I’m really happy for it. Although I prefer to fight for the belt itself, this is what I have right now and it’s something I enjoy. I have a pretty tough opponent in front of me that I have tons of respect for him, and I just have to go and do what I do best, and that is fighting, and get the win.
” I kinda saw it coming so it didn’t bother me too much. Whatever. I knew that I had the opportunity to fight for the belt soon, and I didn’t really care. Both of them deserve my best wishes. Although I have nothing against Islam, I do hope Volkanovski is .”