Yair Rodriguez will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon later tonight (Sat., Nov. 10, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 139 live on FOX Sports 1 from inside Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, when he takes on former featherweight title challenger “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.
It will mark the first time “El Pantera” is stepping back inside of the cage after suffering a TKO loss to Frankie Edgar 18 months ago. This is the same Frankie Edgar that Rodriguez is filling in for later tonight in the main event.
With more than enough time to collect himself and refine his tools as a 26-year-old contender in one of UFC’s most competitive divisions, Rodriguez feels refreshed heading into UFC Denver. This includes his interaction with reporters and what he puts out on social media, which Rodriguez explained in detail earlier this week (h/t MMAjunkie).
“I’m one of the guys who never posts stuff on social media,” said Rodriguez. “I realize that you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to go out there and put stuff for the fans, and you’ve got to do interviews and stuff. It’s not like I hate you guys, but doing interviews sometimes is hard. You ask most fighters, nobody likes to do interviews and stuff, but it’s part fo the game and part of what you have to do. It’s your work. It’s my work to do it, and I actually love to talk to you guys, but sometimes you forget about it.
“I think more than anything, you don’t want to keep on going back to the stuff that you’ve already been talking about for a long time. You just want to move forward, and sometimes interviews and all this other stuff just makes you go back again and, ‘OK, I’ve got to say all this again?’ It’s repetitive, and that’s one of the things, but everything else is perfect. It’s part of the game.”
While a big part of Rodriguez’s comeback campaign will rely on his ability to sell himself as a future featherweight champion, nothing great can truly happen unless “El Pantera” does magic inside of the cage. Despite getting steamrolled by Edgar on the ground in his last appearance, Rodriguez doesn’t seem ready to change much of anything moving forward.
He’ll certainly strive to fix any weaknesses, but his style of fighting is here to stay.
“There are ups and downs in this career,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just part of the game. My style of fighting is going to be always the same. It’s who I am. If you go back and look into my first fights, you’re going to see the same Yair Rodriguez. It’s just who I am and how I like to fight, how I feel to fight.
“You cannot think out there. If you start thinking something, you won’t do anything. You’ve got to just be able to react and be fluid and just fight – just fight.”
We’ll find out one way or another if Rodriguez’s time off turns into a massive victory later this even against a real-life zombie.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 139 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.