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UFC 211 fight card: Frankie Edgar vs Yair Rodriguez preview

MMA: UFC 205-Edgar vs Stephens Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight standouts Frankie Edgar and Yair Rodriguez will throw down this Saturday (May 13, 2017) at UFC 211 inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

It’s been a little more than five years since Frankie Edgar lost the Lightweight title in a pair of contentious decisions. Ever since, Edgar has dominated the Featherweight field with the small exception of Jose Aldo, who has twice denied Edgar’s attempt to become a two-division champion.

Everyone else? Squashed.

Looking to buck that trend is Yair Rodriguez. Unbeaten in UFC, the fast-flying Mexican athlete has been seriously impressive thanks to his ridiculous kicks and athleticism. This is a new level of competition for “Pantera,” but it could propel him into a title shot.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both men:

Frankie Edgar
Record: 20-5-1
Key Wins: B.J. Penn (TUF 19 Finale, UFC 118, UFC 112), Chad Mendes (TUF 22 Finale), Urijah Faber (UFC Fight Night 66), Gray Maynard (UFC 136) Cub Swanson(UFC Fight Night 57)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 156), Ben Henderson (UFC 144, UFC 150)
Keys to Victory: Edgar has improved consistently over the years, but it’s been more of a refinement of his strategy than any real dramatic change. The facts of “Fe” have changed; his constant in-and-out movement, level changes, and blend of boxing and takedowns are a very difficult approach to stop.

In this match, Edgar’s ability to judge distance will be tested. Rodriguez is willing to begin his attack from far further away than most of his opponents, chaining lunging punches and jumping kicks to make up that range. If Edgar hangs around at his usual range thinking he’s safe, there’s a fair chance he’ll catch a shin to the jaw.

Historically, Edgar is one of the best at capitalizing on his opponent being out of position. Edgar times his shots extremely well, and once on top, he’s proven to be a mean bastard who’s difficult to shake. That should be the gameplan opposite Rodriguez. If Edgar can make him reach a bit too far with wild punches or cut an angle and allow Rodriguez to kick right past him, the chances of Edgar landing a takedown on an off-balance Rodriguez are pretty solid.

Once that happens, Edgar usually wins without much issue.


Yair Rodriguez
Record: 10-1
Key Wins: Alex Caceres (UFC Fight Night 92), Andre Fili (UFC 197), Charles Rosa (UFC 188), Dan Hooker (UFC 192), BJ Penn (UFC Fight Night 103)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: A Taekwondo black belt, Rodriguez has gain plenty of fans thanks to his ridiculously high-pace and dangerous flying attacks. Rodriguez jump kicks as easily as most jab, and his ground game has also proven a difficult egg to crack.

His takedown defense and general style will be tested here.

It’s tough to write out a true strategy for Rodriguez simply because his style is so unique. Turning his back and occasionally running into the cage are definitely things to avoid when facing a wrestler like Edgar, but it simply cannot be helped. If there is one real, feasible adjustment that Rodriguez could make, it would be to focus on low kicks. Edgar has been knocked out of his stance before, and Rodriguez is the bigger man with some powerful kicks. If he can knock Edgar off-balance, he’ll be in position to capitalize, rather than the opposite.

Bottom Line: It’s a real night of proving for “Pantera.”

With a win, Rodriguez will almost certainly receive the winner of Jose Aldo vs. Max Holloway. Apologies to Cub Swanson — who is also deserving — but a fresh face with a massively exciting style and potential to become a star will win out over a rematch just about every time.

UFC would love for a Mexican champion and star, but Rodriguez must win for that to happen.

As for Edgar, he already jumped back on the horse following his UFC 200 loss to Aldo by thumping Jeremy Stephens. Luckily, Rodriguez has a fair amount of momentum behind him, meaning this could be another big win for “The Answer.” If Max Holloway dethrones Aldo, it could even earn Edgar a shot at the strap.

If not, a trip down to Bantamweight may be in Edgar’s future sooner than later.

At UFC 211, Frankie Edgar and Yair Rodriguez will battle in an important 145-pound contest. Which fighter will have his hand raised?

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