Yair Rodriguez (8-1) went five rounds for the first time in his career at UFC Fight Night 92 last night (Sat. Aug. 6, 2016). And even though he slowed down considerably late in the fight, "El Pantera" held on to win a split division over Alex Caceres (12-9 1NC) inside Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Two of the judges scored the bout 48-47 for Rodriguez, with the third giving a 49-46 score to Caceres.
To watch Yair Rodriguez vs. Alex Caceres full fight video highlights from UFC 'Salt Lake' last night click here!
"It was a great experience," Rodriguez told Jon Anik after the bout. "I think it was a good opportunity for me to see where I'm at in my division and to see where my cardio and technique goes after three rounds."
Rodriguez, 23, showcased his full arsenal early on, but Caceres came back later on in the fight when Rodriguez's speed and mobility began to decrease.
The crazy and high-flying techniques came fast and furious to start the opening round, which was a competitive one. Rodriguez opened up his arsenal of jump kicks, hook kicks, spinning-back fists, among several other creative combinations. The No. 13-ranked UFC Featherweight went in on a takedown attempt following a combination, but could not land it. Caceres did a good job of avoiding the craziness and unorthodox nature of Rodriguez, but was unable to mount much offense.
In the second, Rodriguez pushed forward and continued to throw kick after kick, and kept up the fast pace from the first round. Caceres was mostly in retreat mode, but landed a solid left hand early in the round. He didn't land much else though, and continued to struggle to close the distance.
The third round was highly competitive as Rodriguez''s pace began to slow and Caceres began to have some success in the striking department. "Bruce Leeroy" landed some nice combinations with a little under two minutes left in the round and in a scramble, gained top position and landed some solid ground and pound before the round ended.
Caceres had more success in the fourth as Rodriguez's pace slowed considerably, which allowed him to close distance and land more punches. Rodriguez had his moments too, but Caceres appeared to land with more success and significance.
In the fifth, Caceres landed a takedown, but Rodriguez quickly made it back to his feet. The bout was halted briefly by referee Herb Dean, so that he could cut a piece of loose tape off of Rodriguez's left glove. With under two minutes left, Rodriguez tagged Caceres with a solid combination, but Caceres countered with a clean right hand. With one minute left and the crowd behind them vociferously, both fighters kept throwing until the final horn.
It was a solid win for Rodriguez, who proved he could go five rounds and get a victory. He will have to work on fighting smarter in terms of keeping his pace under control for a five-round fight, but this experience can be a great learning tool for him as this was just his fifth fight in UFC, where he remains undefeated in the Featherweight division. The Mexican native has now won six fights in a row.
Meanwhile, Caceres fought well in his first UFC main event and nearly came back to earn an upset victory. He has his two-fight win streak snapped in defeat and falls to 7-7 1NC in UFC.
For complete UFC Fight Night 92: "Rodriguez vs. Caceres" results, including play-by-play updates, click here.