Yair Rodriguez only sees one option going forward.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, is healing on the sidelines following hand surgery, leaving the division in disarray among the top contenders. Comfortably in the discussion to be next in line is Rodriguez, who is being linked to a potential interim title fight next against his fellow top contender, Josh Emmett.
However, Rodriguez isn’t budging with his interests being firmly fixated on the real title next ... and he doesn’t care how long it takes until he has to get it.
“What is in my mind right now is fighting Alexander Volkanovski, and that’s always on my mind right now,” Rodriguez told reporters backstage at UFC 277 (h/t MMA Fighting). “I’m waiting for him.
“No, I’m going to wait for him [even if he moves up to Lightweight],” he said. “Hopefully, he wins the [155-pound belt] so it will be a bigger accomplishment for me whenever I get to fight him, and beat him. Why [would I fight for an interim] when I’m knocking on the door for the title? It doesn’t make any sense. I’m not fighting Josh Emmett, I’m fighting Volkanovski.”
Rodriguez last fought as the headliner of UFC Long Island last month (July 16, 2022) opposite Brian Ortega in a highly anticipated clash. Unfortunately for both men, the action ended rather anti-climactically at the end of round one when Ortega suffered a dislocated shoulder fending off a submission attempt (watch highlights).
The result went down as a technical knockout via doctor’s stoppage for Rodriguez, getting him back in the winner’s circle following a fun back-and-forth unanimous decision defeat to the former champion, Max Holloway, in Nov. 2021 (watch highlights).
As for Emmett, he recently extended his current win streak to five with a split decision nod in UFC Austin’s main event opposite Calvin Kattar in June 2022 (watch highlights).