Once in a great while, a fighter comes along and you just know he’s destined for great things in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Yair Rodriguez is one of those athletes.
After brutalizing longtime veteran B.J. Penn for five minutes, only to finish him via devastating front face kick to punch combo at UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix, Arizona (see it), "El Pantera" raised even more eyebrows thanks to his entertaining performance.
While many are quick to give a little less credit for the win, seeing as how he was facing an aging veteran who hadn’t competed in over two and a half years and hasn’t seen the winner's circle since 2010, Yair should be acknowledged.
He did what he had to do, and he did it well. Rodriguez is in prime position to carry the torch for UFC in Mexico since Cain Velasquez has unfortunately failed to do so thus far. Rodriguez can be "that guy." After all, he was born and raised in Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico, so he has that going for him.
He now has eight straight wins under his belt, going 6-0 so far in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career. The fights will only get tougher from here on out, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
That said, a showdown against a resurgent Cub Swanson is what I’d like to see next. Cub is a battle-tested veteran who is coming off a "Fight of the Year" performance against Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206 (relive it here).
Cub — another Jackson-Wink MMA product -- would be a great measuring stick to see just where Rodriguez stands. Plus, Swanson is currently riding a three-fight win streak, so he isn’t about to call it a day and has his own sights on a future title shot.
This potential scrap has all the makings of an all-out war, and it definitely deserves headlining duties for a Fight Night event, which means we could get five full rounds of intense, high-paced action.
For play-by-play coverage and full results of the FOX Sports 1-televised UFC Fight Night 103 event click here.