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Yair Rodriguez hoping for ‘perfect’ fight against Alexander Volkanovski in Mexico City

“El Pantera” went down to Australia, now it’s time for “The Great” to come up to Mexico.

Yair Rodriguez put on a masterful performance against a tough Josh Emmett to win UFC’s interim Featherweight belt at UFC 284 (watch highlights here) last night (Sat., Feb. 11, 2023) in Perth, Australia. It was a performance that was somewhat overshadowed by Featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski’s gutsy decision loss to Islam Makhachev in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event.

So, it’s not surprising that Rodriguez is already looking to make a mark by fighting Volkanovski himself. Asked if a fight against “The Great” in Mexico would be his best-case scenario, Rodriguez agreed.

“Yeah, that would be perfect,” he said at UFC 284’s post-fight press conference. “Actually, I talked to Alexander Volkanovski in the past in Dallas – actually not that much with him, more his manager – and he asked me if I’d go to Australia. I was like, ‘Yeah, why not. Of course, I’ll go.’

“So, I stick to my word and I came here and won the interim title,” he added. “And now I want to ask UFC to take this belt, this championship fight, to Mexico City in September whenever they open the UFC Performance Institute, so we can do it there.”

Rodriguez wasn’t watching the Volkanovski vs. Makhachev fight too closely, but he already had some thoughts about how a match up against “The Great” would go.

“Talking about his fight against me, I think he’s quick, I think he’s explosive and he’s got really good wrestling and takedown defense,” Yair said. “So, I think the fight between him and I will stay standing up. So it will be more of a stand-up fight. Everything comes down to who does it better in that day, who does a better strategy, and who can maintain that strategy and adjust if it’s not working. I can’t say much about anything, it’s just a matter of who does it better that day.”

He also didn’t expect Volkanovski to lose any mental fortitude following the close loss.

“He’s fighting for the 155-pound belt against Islam Makhachev — he’s not fighting a nobody,” he said. “Islam is tough, tough. We’ve seen the Russian guys fight in this company, they’re super tough. He was able to go in there, not only five round, but demonstrate he’s capable of also winning. The fight was pretty close. It was three rounds to two. So I think he did a pretty good job.”

For now, Rodriguez is just processing his own title win and finally being a champion after years of hard work.

“Even though I believed that I could do this in one stage of my life, it’s almost like unbelievable at the same time,” he admitted. “I know, it’s weird, it’s weird to explain. But I finally get to carry this belt around and call myself a champion. It’s been a long journey, I was talking to my coaches and they said it’s been a long time, it’s been over ten years since we started working so this feels surrealistic.”

For complete UFC 284 results and coverage click here.

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