Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight scrappers Yair Rodriguez and Andre Fili battled last night (April 23, 2016) at UFC 197 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Thanks to his flashy style and success on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America," Rodriguez entered this bout with a fair bit of momentum behind him. With a victory over FIli, Rodriguez would likely earn a position inside the Top 15. Meanwhile, Fili was still looking to put together his first UFC win streak. He's already had some ups-and-downs in his short UFC career, but now "Touchy" was ready to start his streak to the top.
Instead, his opponent continued to climb the ladder with a spectacular knockout win.
Fili made his intentions clear early, feinting his way forward and looking to throw his hands. About a minute into the round, Fili landed a hard body kick, but Rodriguez caught the strike and scored with a takedown.
From top position, Rodriguez landed some nice ground strikes and eventually passed into side control. Fili kicked his way back to his feet with a minute remaining and was able to land some nice strikes before the end of the round, but it wasn't enough to make up for his opponent's top control.
"Pantera" took the first round.
After a minute or so on the feet, Rodriguez scored a second takedown but could not control top position for long. Back on their feet, the two had a couple fairly even exchanges on the feet.
And suddenly, it was all over.
Fili took a step back from his opponent, and Rodriguez advanced forward. Then, Rodriguez leaped forward with a switch high kick, catching Fili off-guard with the head kick.
It landed perfectly, and Rodriguez scored his first finish inside the Octagon in shocking fashion.
Rodriguez very much appears to be the real deal. Against a very tough opponent, Rodriguez showed some nasty kickboxing and much improved wrestling. Before long, Rodriguez will be a serious threat to the top-ranked fighters in the world.
In this case, Rodriguez's wrestling was quite impressive. He timed both of his takedowns very well and -- while he wasn't able to do anything too effective with his top position -- his success in that area is a great sign moving forward. His wrestling has clearly improved quite a bit, as he's never been so consistently success with his offensive wrestling.
Additionally, Rodriguez's finishing sequence was smart kickboxing. After using a stomp kick to force his foe backwards, he raised his lead leg in a similar motion to that stomp kick. Instead, he threw the jumping switch kick, slipping the strike though his opponent's defense.
Following this victory, Rodriguez deserves an opponent with a ranking by his name. For example, a bout with Mirsad Bektic would be an excellent challenge for both prospects.
This is a disappointing result for Fili. Though he was likely surprised a bit by his opponent's aggressive wrestling attack, Fili was actually doing reasonably well on the feet and landing some nice punches. However, it only took one opportunity for his opponent to land the finishing high kick.
That's the danger of fighting an explosive and unorthodox kickboxer like "Pantera."
Following this loss, Fili's next bout is unclear. He's clearly a very talented fighter, but he's alternated wins and losses thus far inside the Octagon. If he's to advance through the ranks, he'll need to begin stringing together some victories starting in his next fight.
On the bright side, Fili is still a young enough fighter to put it all together and potentially go on a streak.
At UFC 197, Yair Rodriguez scored a highlight reel knockout victory to open the main card. Where does the Mexican athlete's ceiling stand?