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What’s next for Yair Rodriguez after loss to Max Holloway at UFC Vegas 42?

UFC Fight Night: Holloway v Rodriguez Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

UFC Vegas 42 went down last Sat. afternoon (Nov. 13, 2021) inside the UFC APEX facility in Las Vegas, featuring an exciting night of fights that had nine stoppages (eight via KO/TKO, one via submission) and just two decisions.

That means several fighters were left feeling the post-fight blues, including Cynthia Calvillo, who suffered her third straight defeat when her corner halted the bout after just two rounds of action against Andrea Lee. And Ben Rothwell, who was knocked out by Marcos Rogerio de Lima in a little over 30 seconds (see it here).

But which fighter is suffering from the worst post-fight hangover, now a few days removed from the event?

Yair Rodriguez.

Returning from his two-year layoff, “Pantera” was tasked with facing former featherweight champion Max Holloway, a Herculean task regardless of activity. But with a win over “Blessed,” Rodriguez could have very easily catapulted himself into a shot at the title.

Unfortunately for the Mexican-born fighter, he was sent home with just the second loss of his UFC career. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Rodriguez put on perhaps his most memorable performance to date, and having the perfect dance partner in Holloway only elated fight fans that much more.

For five rounds, Rodriguez and Holloway went toe-to-toe, taking and giving each other’s best shots. And there didn’t seem to be much ring rust from Rodriguez, who tagged the former 145-pound champion with several good shots without ever backing down an inch for the entire fight. But as good as Rodriguez was, Holloway was just a little bit better and walked away with a unanimous decision victory (highlights).

Nevertheless, Rodriguez earned Holloway’s respect, and “Blessed” couldn’t stop showering “Pantera” with post-fight praise, acknowledging just how much of an animal Rodriguez was before celebrating his victory. A compliment like that from a fighter the caliber of Holloway is not to be taken lightly.

Though he wasn’t able to field questions from the media as a result of his immediate trip to the hospital, Rodriguez did offer a post-fight message to his fans.

“Everybody, thank you for being here for me and for my family,” Rodriguez said in an Instagram Live video broadcast from his hospital bed (via MMA Fighting). “I’m kind of f—king f—ked up right now, I don’t even know what I’m saying. I just want to say, it was an amazing fight. Just keep moving forward guys. Thank you.”

Rodriguez saw his stock go up in defeat, and even UFC president Dana White couldn’t stop praising the No. 3 ranked Featherweight during the post-fight presser.

As far as what’s next for “Pantera,” a fight against Brian Ortega seems like the logical step to take. “T-City” is coming off a title fight loss to Alex Volkanovski and is ranked just ahead of Rodriguez at No. 2. Their potential showdown is guaranteed fireworks because ... well, just look at their respective bodies of work. The winner could get back on track in a big way and stay in the thick of the title hunt.

Just make sure it’s five rounds.