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Yair Rodriguez admits to folding under pressure, but vows to come back and ‘be the f—king best’

Esther Lin/MMA Fighting

Branded as one of the top prospects for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Yair Rodriguez stormed his way into the spotlight by winning his first six fights inside the Octagon, including a one-sided beatdown over B.J. Penn.

At UFC 211, however, “Pantera” ran into his stiffest test to date in the former of former division champion Frankie Edgar. It was a test he didn’t pass, as “The Answer” dominated the Mexican-born fighter from the jump en route to a second round technical knockout win.

According to Rodriguez, the pressure to deliver and live up to expectations simply got to him, ultimately leading to his lackluster performance. But if you ask him, his loss happened long before fight night.

”I couldn’t handle the pressure. It exploded. I was being really hard on myself,” Rodriguez said during a recent ESPN interview. “I was becoming crazy, honestly. It was weird stuff. I wasn’t listening to my coaches. I was getting mad at training.”

Still, Yair says his fight against Edgar was not taken too early, and experienced or not -- he has to be ready take on any and all comers.

“People may say I took the Frankie fight too soon -- I’m 25 years old and been in martial arts for 20 of those. I know what I’m talking about. Of course, Frankie Edgar’s experience was a factor in that fight, but I have to be ready. If I’m fighting at the top, I have to be ready. I’m not going to make excuses.”

Yair has made plenty of changes since his defeat, moving to Las Vegas in order to train at the UFC’s Performance Institute while still keeping some of his trainers intact. As for what’s next for “Pantera,” he is eying a return later this year against a top-ranked foe.

“I just fought Frankie Edgar, who is next to fight for the title. That means something,” Rodriguez said. “I was on a six-fight win streak before that. I want to be the f---ing best, and I will show it. I am confident. People around me, who have seen me train, they will tell you. I’m not a f---ing joke.”

Care to offer a few suggestions for Yair’s comeback fight?

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