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UFC Vegas 42 card: Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodriguez full fight preview

UFC Fight Night: Holloway v Kattar Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight strikers Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Nov. 13, 2021) at UFC Vegas 42 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Holloway essentially secured another title shot with his record-setting ass-kicking of Calvin Kattar back in July, but the Hawaiian opted to fight again anyway simply because ... he’s a badass? I’m sure the additional paychecks are a helpful incentive also, but Holloway continues to carry himself as a champion even without the title. Meanwhile, Rodriguez returns from yet another layoff of somewhat bizarre circumstances. Fortunately, “Pantera” tends to win in such incredible fashion that his absences are quickly forgiven, though he faces a major step up in competition here.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 44 On ESPN+

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., Dec 4, 2021, with a thrilling Bantamweight contenders’ bout that will see No. 4-ranked Rob Font battle No. 5-seeded Jose Aldo. In UFC Vegas 44’s co-main event, No. 12-ranked Lightweight contender, Brad Riddell, squares off with No. 14-seeded Rafael Fiziev in a striking fan’s dream fight.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Max Holloway

Record: 22-6
Key Wins: Jose Aldo (UFC 218, UFC 212), Calvin Kattar (UFC Fight Island 7), Frankie Edgar (UFC 240), Brian Ortega (UFC 231) Anthony Pettis (UFC 206), Ricardo Lamas (UFC 199), Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 15), Jeremy Stephens (UFC 194)
Key Losses: Alexander Volkanovski (UFC 251, UFC 245), Dustin Poirier (UFC 236, UFC 143), Conor McGregor (UFC Fight Night 26), Dennis Bermudez (UFC 160)
Keys to Victory: Holloway is the king of volume, a boxer who lands so many shots that he’s essentially a statistical anomaly. There is great craft and skill to his numbers game, however, and “Blessed” is definitely a skilled grappler to boot.

Pretty much every fighter who squares off opposite Rodriguez would be wise to pressure the Mexican athlete. Rodriguez is a fantastic kicker, but when forced onto his backfoot, his game becomes less skillful and more erratic as he somewhat frantically fires punches and weird elbows in an attempt to back off his foes.

Holloway just so happens to be one of the best MMA pressure boxers alive. He’s able to put one heck of a pace on opponents while still maintaining his distance and defense, ensuring that he’s not relying solely on toughness and grit. Add in Holloway’s usual body attack, and his typical style is already a nightmare match up for “Pantera.”

Ultimately, Holloway just has to keep his guard high and stay wary at all times. Rodriguez throws weird s—t, and cliché though the sentiment may be, it will be the strike Holloway doesn’t see coming that finally cracks his iron jaw.


Yair Rodriguez

Record: 12-2 (1)
Key Wins: Chan Sung Jung (UFC Fight Night 139), Jeremy Stephens (UFC on ESPN 6), Andre Fili (UFC 197), Charles Rosa (UFC 188), Dan Hooker (UFC 192), BJ Penn (UFC Fight Night 103)
Key Losses: Frankie Edgar (UFC 211)
Keys to Victory: Rodriguez is one of the most spectacle kickers in the sport. He can rip an opponent apart with the classic left kick to the liver or low calf kick, but Rodriguez is just as likely to jump into a flying or flipping head kick, and he lands those wild shots more than anyone else.

As Alexander Volkanovski twice demonstrated, the only way to compete with Holloway at this stage in the game is to prevent him from getting the volume going in the first place. If Rodriguez is an easy target, this fight is over before it begins.

As such, Rodriguez has to keep his feet moving, mixing in feints and direction changes. Hell, Rodriguez has shown a nice reactive double leg to pressure in the past, and it would be worth an attempt or two just to keep Holloway honest. In the mean time, Rodriguez has to punish his foe’s attempts to step forward.

Holloway can rip inside low kicks to the thigh and outside calf kicks even more effectively than Volkanovski. In addition, he can hide those strikes behind teeps and round kicks to the body. If Holloway is kicked out of stance or has his liver stabbed each time he steps forward, it will cause hesitation, which is the first step for Rodriguez to be able to enforce his range.

If that happens, Holloway will look far more ordinary.


Bottom Line

This is a Featherweight title eliminator.

As mentioned, Holloway already has earned the position of top contender, and now he defends that rank. Victory sets up a third battle vs. Volkanovski, although Holloway has hinted about other big money match ups too. Either way, the “Blessed” legend grows, and he’s in great position to score whatever match up he’d like.

Alternatively, perhaps a loss sends him to Lightweight?

Obviously, this is a huge moment for Rodriguez. Defeating Holloway may no longer earn one a golden title, but it’s still a seriously rare feat! Aside from scoring Rodriguez a title shot, handing Holloway his first non-title loss since 2013 (!!!) would certainly be proof that Rodriguez has lived up to his potential after some rocky moments.

At UFC Vegas 42, Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez will go to war in the main event. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 42 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 42: “Holloway vs. Rodriguez” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.