Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight prospects Yair Rodriguez and Alex Caceres clashed last night (Aug. 6, 2016) inside UFC Fight Night 92 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rodriguez has been rising at a stellar rate, as he became one of the most talked about fighters in the division after just four fights. In his first main event showcase, Rodriguez was hoping to climb even further. Caceres came into this role as the potential spoiler, and that’s a role he knew fairly well. With a win, Caceres could steal his foe’s spotlight and begin his own run toward the Featherweight elite.
To watch Yair Rodriguez vs. Alex Caceres full fight video highlights from UFC 'Salt Lake' last night click here!
Neither fighter waited long to jump into some wild, leaping blows. Rodriguez began to land first, as he took control of the center of the Octagon and threw lots of aggressive and strange punching combinations.
For the most part, the first round was all Rodriguez, who threw at an insanely high pace for the entire round. Caceres nearly took his back at one point, but even then the Mexican fighter used a leg lock attempt to scramble back to his feet.
Rodriguez did not land anything too devastating, but he was able to play his game for the entire round without much resistance from his opponent.
"Pantera" continued his all-out assault into the second round. Caceres tried to trade kicks at times, but Rodriguez simply threw too much, too often for Caceres to gauge his opponent’s offense.
That said, there was definitely some evidence that Rodriguez was slowing down just a bit. His kicks came a tad slower, and Caceres was able to flurry on him or clinch up a couple times.
Still, there was little doubt that Yair Rodriguez was far ahead on the scorecards.
For the first three minutes or so, it was business as usual for Rodriguez. His breathing may have been a bit labored, but Rodriguez was still able to control the distance and throw at a higher volume.
Nonetheless, Caceres continued to find small moments to attack, and he finally began to land consistently. Against the fence, Caceres scored with some hard punches and knees, and he even landed a takedown in the final minute of the round.
Suddenly, there was a real fight going on in the main event.
The fourth round was perhaps the closest of the fight. While Caceres got the better of most boxing exchanges, Rodriguez was incredibly active with his outside kicks. Neither man really took control of the round, as Rodriguez threw more volume but "Bruce Leeroy" landed the cleaner blows.
Without a doubt, Caceres needed to at least win the final frame in order to have a chance at the decision, though a finish would be ideal.
Caceres made a smart adjustment in the final round, looking for the clinch. He ate a knee on his first attempt, but Caceres scored a trip takedown next time around. Unfortunately for him, Rodriguez quickly used his leg lock game to stand once again.
Back on the feet, it was very much a replay of the fourth round. Rodriguez threw a ridiculous amount of (admittedly slower) strikes, whereas Caceres scored with harder punches.
The final three frames were close, but Rodriguez had built up such a lead that there was little doubt who the judges would award the decision.
Rodriguez really is an incredible and unique fighter. At pretty high altitude, he threw an absolutely absurd number of kicks and punches, pushing forward with unpredictable combinations even while he was exhausted.
Speaking of, Rodriguez does not have an issue with his gas tank. If there’s something to be fixed, he just needs to choose when to throw his wild kicks more carefully.
That’s a pretty small complaint against a 23 year old battling with some of the best in the world.
Besides Rodriguez’s impressive kickboxing, his grappling was very on point in this fight. Numerous times, Rodriguez used leg locks to scramble out of bad positions, which is a brilliant strategy for a striker constantly at risk of giving up his back in the clinch.
Following this victory, a bout with a fellow ranked fighter like Darren Elkins would make sense.
Most fans expected Caceres to be blown out of the water, but he put in a really respectable performance. "Bruce Leeroy" fought smartly, letting his opponent burn himself out in the first two rounds before really trying to take over.
It was a very smart strategy — as was pursuing the clinch late in the bout — but Caceres’ own gas tank failed him. That’s fully understandable; it takes plenty of energy to merely evade Rodriguez’s ridiculous kicks.
In the final three rounds, Caceres simply didn’t have enough left to take advantage of his tired foe.
Last night at UFC Fight Night 92, Yair Rodriguez battled past Alex Caceres for a split decision victory. Is Rodriguez a future title holder?
For complete UFC Fight Night 92 "Rodriguez vs Caceres" results and play-by-play, click HERE!