Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has already successfully staged a couple of pay-per-view (PPV) events in Mexico; a country dominated by the culture of boxing.
Still, there are a select few fans who reside South of the Border that aren’t too keen on watching mixed martial arts (MMA), according to Yair Rodriguez. As he recently told UFC.com, some go as far as calling UFC fighters animals and label the sport as criminal.
It’s a point of view "Pantera" hopes to change moving forward, starting with his performance against Alex Caceres at this weekend’s (Sat., Aug., 6, 2016) UFC Fight Night 92 event (details) in Salt Lake City, Utah.
"I hope I change people’s opinion of the sport. They used to watch the UFC or MMA and used to think, ‘Those guys are animals, the worst.’ Some guy in Mexico called fighting criminal, and it’s what I have to change. I want to show them that as professional fighters, we’re here for success and we train as hard as any athlete or even harder than that."
Rodriguez made his Octagon debut in UFC’s first-ever venture into Mexico, taking out Leonardo Morales via unanimous decision at UFC 180 in November of 2014.
He has since gone on to win three straight to put himself on the featherweight map and earn his first-ever headlining duties. Still, he is far from where he wants to be.
"I try to keep my life real. I don’t want to be up there thinking crazy stuff. I try to keep myself down here on Earth with positive thoughts and I want to keep working hard. Nothing’s happened yet. My goals are not there yet. This is just one more step, one more goal for me. Alex Caceres is my next opponent, a tough guy, and I respect him a lot, but my goals are farther than this, so I’m going to try to win this fight and then move forward."
A win over "Bruce Leeroy" will likely catapult him into the top 10 and inch him closer to his goals. In the process, he hopes to convince doubters of the sport that MMA fighters are athletes and deserve such respect.
If this guy can have a change of heart, anyone can.
To learn more about UFC Fight Night 92 -- which airs on FOX Sports 1 -- click here.