Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veteran, Li Jingliang, was dressed for success, ready to give Tony Ferguson the business at UFC 279 tonight (Sat., Sept. 10, 2022) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Daniel Rodriguez was doing the same, minding his business, working hard and making weight, which is what is expected of mixed martial arts (MMA) professionals.
So, here we are, with Jingliang and Rodriguez being the odd men out, forced to fight each other on about 24-hour notice of an opponent switch so UFC could keep the pay-per-view (PPV) main card together. And, in the end, it was Rodriguez who used a stiff jab and constant pressure to upset “The Leech.”
Rodriguez came out of his corner looking to swang and bang, backing up Li to the cage with aggression and kicks, landing a nice cross along the fence. Li with a nice straight right hand, followed by a kick, which finally got Rodriguez on his heels for a minute. Jab from Rodriguez appeared to be an early problem for Li, who continued to switch stances and give different looks early. Nice kick to the body from Li, but Rodriguez continued to march forward. Low kick, then front kick from Li, who appeared to have found a way to keep Rodriguez at distance. Rodriguez whipped a body kick, which Li caught and dumped his opponent to the canvas. It was a solid close round, but nothing significant landed for either fighter.
Rodriguez started the second stanza with a low kick, with Li looking to back him off with looping punches. The pair exchanged inside low kicks, with Li getting clipped upstairs after over-extending himself a bit. Mid-point of the fight and both fighters exchanging low kicks, with Li missing on those looping punches ... he just couldn’t get close enough. The crowd started to become a little impatient with 90 seconds remaining in round two, as it appeared to turn into something like a sparring session. Then, with 45 seconds on the clock, Li landed a hard shot upstairs, with Rodriguez visibly affected. He couldn’t do much after that, though, as they headed into the third and final frame with Li scoring a flash takedown at the very end.
Rodriguez came out with purpose, perhaps thinking he was down two rounds, which very well could have been the case. He checked a kick, then blocked a high kick, as Li continued to juke and jive, constantly moving and giving Rodriguez something to think about. Nice left hand counter from Li, which he followed with low kicks, as Rodriguez tried to get close. Nice jab from Rodriguez, with Li countering with a partially-blocked overhand right. Rodriguez was seemingly content to just jab down the stretch, with Li countering with those looping shots that were just out of reach.
It wasn’t the greatest fight, but what can you expect from two gentleman who never really agreed to fight each other until yesterday. Rodriguez did well, showing that he can compete with Top 15-ranked Welterweight talent, even if most fight fans didn’t really agree with the decision.
Oh well, blame Khamzat.
Final result: Rodriguez def. Jingliang def. via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 279 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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