Yair Rodriguez knows exactly what he wants.
The Mexican star is aiming for the undisputed UFC featherweight title, not an interim strap. Rodriguez (14-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC), who is coming off a victory over top contender Brian Ortega in the main event of UFC on ABC 3, is convinced he is the most deserving fighter for a title against champion Alexander Volkanovski.
And not only does Rodriguez think he’s next, he also thinks he would serve as the biggest fight for Volkanovski at featherweight.
“In terms of record, Fight of the Night bonus, Performance of the Night bonus, main event slots, fighters I’ve fought, fights and how many years I have with the business, I think I have one of the best resumes,” Rodriguez told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “Without a doubt, this is the best-selling fight in the division.”
The problem for Rodriguez is that Volkanovski plans to move up to lightweight in hopes of becoming a two-division champion. He plans to return to 145 pounds at some point, but it could take time, which is why Volkanovski recently suggested setting up an interim title while he climbs to 155.
“No, it’s not something I’m interested in to tell you the truth,” Rodriguez said of Volkanovski’s tentative belt suggestion. “I think even though there are very good fighters, I think they need to fight more or at least fight against fighters who are in the top five.
“They want to jump and fight with me, and I literally just won the opportunity to fight for a title. I honestly don’t think that’s fair. I’m not saying they aren’t good fighters. They have good fights, but they are racking up wins outside of the top five. I fought BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar, Max Holloway, Brian Ortega – you talk about fighters who were top five. When I fought Jeremy Stephens he was in the top five.
“So I don’t care how you say it, but there’s no one else (in the division) who’s fought these type of fighters that I have. There is no one who has the same number of Fight Night bonuses, main events – this was my sixth main event of my 12 UFC fights. Look at it however you want, the person most deserving of the title shot, whether you like it or not, is me.
Rodriguez has deep respect for Volkanovski, but is determined to challenge him next. ‘El Pantera’ would ideally like to fight Volkanovski towards the end of the year, and he is ready to face him on his home turf in Australia.
“Every time they give me the chance, I go for the champion’s belt,” Rodriguez said. “I would love the opportunity (to fight him in Australia). It’s something I would really appreciate.
“I have no problem having the crowd against me. I know that every fighter has his people, and I have no problem with that. I too have people who support me, as we have seen in my fights, and that’s what matters to me. I have the support of my family and the people who love me. The people who support you will support you whether you win or lose. Once you learn this , nothing else matters. If you have the support of your people, that’s all that matters. I have no problem having the mob against. I’m absorbing that energy and I’ll draw one out of it. positive result.