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Raul Rosas Jr. vs. Christian Rodriguez full fight preview | UFC 287

MMA: DEC 10 UFC 282 Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight prospects Raul Rosas Jr. and Christian Rodriguez will throw down this weekend (Sat., April 8, 2023) at UFC 287 inside Miami-Dade Arena in Miami, Florida.

Rosas Jr. took the Octagon by storm last fall, winning his Contenders Series debut, celebrating his 18th birthday, and then showing out in his first official UFC fight in a three-month span. “El Nino Problema” has championship aspirations, but he’ll first have to settle for a strong sophomore performance in his pay-per-view (PPV) launch. His opponent “Ceerod” is just 25 years of age himself, a Roufusport-trained product who enters his third UFC bout following a bonus-winning submission over Joshua Weems.

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

LIVE! Watch UFC 289 PPV On ESPN+ Here!

OCTAGON RETURNS TO THE GREAT WHITE NORTH! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Canada for the first time in almost four years when it hosts UFC 289 inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sat., June 10, 2023. In UFC 289’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, women’s Bantamweight champion, Amanda Nunes, will lock horns with No. 5-ranked 135-pound contender, Irene Aldana, while former Lightweight kingpin and current No. 1-seeded contender, Charles Oliveira, battles No. 4-ranked Beneil Dariush in the co-feature with 155-pound title implications on the line.

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

Raul Rosas Jr.

Record: 7-0
Key Wins: Jay Perrin (UFC 282), Mando Gutierrez (Contenders Series 2022)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Rosas Jr. fights full of confidence, as one would expect of an undefeated teenager riding a major wave of momentum. His best aspect is clearly his Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which has also served him well on the competitive grappling scene at a pretty high level. In the cage, his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skill is complemented by aggressive chain wrestling.

Rosas Jr. isn’t ineffective on his feet, but he’s definitely more raw in that realm. Conversely, Rodriguez’s high-volume kickboxing packs a solid punch, and he puts his combinations together like a far more experienced Bantamweight. Clearly, the game plan here is to wrestle.

Fortunately for Rosas Jr., that’s precisely how Jonathan Pearce defeated Rodriguez (admittedly up a weight class). One of Rosas Jr.’s best attributes is his conditioning and ability to push a pace, so combining non-stop offense with frequent takedown attempts reads like the best way to prevent Rodriguez from getting going and allow Rosas Jr. to keep the match in his realm of expertise.

Christian Rodriguez

Record: 8-1
Key Wins: Joshua Weems (UFC Vegas 63), Junior Cortez (Contenders Series 2021)
Key Losses: Jonathan Pearce (UFC Vegas 48)
Keys to Victory: Rodriguez fights with the skill and composure of an older veteran. He’s got a wrestling background, but Rodriguez finds just as much success with his kickboxing, and he’s capable of finishing the fight on the floor and feet alike.

Rosas Jr. wants a grappling match, and typically, the antidote to that approach is the classic sprawl-and-brawl game plan. In this case, however, Rodriguez has the wrestling and jiu-jitsu skill to actively counter Rosas Jr. Often, when grapplings chain wrestle as aggressively as Rosas Jr., there are opportunities to score reversals or threaten the neck.

A couple successful counter moments like those will really help Rodriguez calm Rosas Jr.’s grappling attack. At that point, Rodriguez will be able to more effectively and confidently build his stand up attack. By punishing transition attempts and bad shots, Rodriguez makes it far more likely that Rosas Jr. doesn’t just keep insisting upon a wrestling match.

Bottom Line

This is a fun fight between talented young Bantamweights.

Rosas Jr. is in position to become a star. At the very least, his youth has him standing out from the highly skilled Bantamweight pack, and a second-straight victory to kick off his UFC career in such a high-profile spot should really help build his fanbase further. The whole triple champ aspirations seems like a bit much, but there’s no reason fans won’t watch him try to achieve great things if he continues to win.

On the flip side, Rodriguez is not a known name just yet. Fortunately, this is an opportunity to change that! Average Bantamweights do not find themselves in PPV openers just three fights into their UFC career, so this is a rare occasion. If Rodriguez can upset Rosas Jr., he stills a bit of shine and fame, becoming a more standout 135-pounder in the process.

At UFC 287, Raul Rosas Jr. and Christian Rodriguez will open the main card. Which man earns the victory?

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 287 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 on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 287: “Pereira vs. Adesanya 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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