Yair Rod said that the stakes are even greater for his main fight against Brian Ortega at UFC on ABC 3.
Ahead of the five-round fight on Saturday, Rodriguez on Monday told The MMA Hour that the promotion has assured him a win on Saturday will put him next in line for a shot at reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski.
“Yes. That has been said to my mind,” Rodriguez stated about the title shot chance. Rodriguez confirmed that the title shot opportunity was available.
“First things first, I’m going to win this fight and then give the champ some time to heal and yeah, go for it. Let’s go step-by-step, for now. First, July 16, Brian Ortega. That’s .”
Rodriguez comes into the fight off a unanimous decision loss to Max Holloway in his previous outing, which put his record at 2-2 with one no-contest over his past five appearances.
An impressive victory over Ortega, a high-ranked opponent seems enough to propel Rodriguez past Volkanovski to take the No.1 spot. 1 contender.
Josh Emmett might argue the opposite, as he has won five consecutive fights, which includes a win over Calvin Kattar. But at least for now, Rodriguez is competing under the assumption that a win will put him next in line for a title fight.
While his focus remains on Ortega this weekend, Rodriguez was very impressed by what Volkanovski did in his trilogy with Holloway; the Australian dominated the fight with arguably one of his best performances to date, winning a lopsided decision.
“S*** wow – wow, that’s all I can say,” Rodriguez said about Volkanovski. “He looked amazing. It was eye-opening for me. I better get ready for that if I want to be the champion. He’s very tough, so I will have to work hard if I want to become the champion. He’s really tough.
“He didn’t enjoy [good]. in his previous fights. This fight, he looked so quick, explosive, smart, the strategy was [good], everything. He proved why he is the champion .”
Despite being at the top of rankings for the last few years, Rodriguez is still not considered a threat to the champion. He hopes that Ortega’s fight will change this.
Rodriguez is aware that even with Saturday’s win, there will still be a lot of homework to complete if he wants to beat Volkanovski who seems to have been improving with every fight.
“He looked so much better,” Rodriguez said. “Everybody was surprised. Like my family and friends they were like, ‘What do you think?’ I think he’s great, I think he’s good, and I think I’m going to have to put on a lot of work if I’m going to beat him.”
Before he can worry about Volkanovski and the title, Rodriguez can’t ignore the difficult task ahead, because Ortega has consistently been one of the best fighters in the entire featherweight division. He considers Ortega a friend, so fighting each other isn’t ideal. He admits, however that the opportunity to be on stage for a major event on ABC and the chance of a title shot was too tempting.
” We didn’t want fight one another unless it was necessary,” Rodriguez said. “Now this is an opportunity for both of us, and we have to fight each other. As I’ve said before, it’s not the opponent I wanted, but the opportunity I wanted. This is a big fight. It’s an important fight.”