This past Saturday in the main event of UFC 290, we saw a unification bout in the featherweight division. Champion Alexander Volkanovski (26-2) was looking to return to 145 and unify the title against interim champion Yair Rodriguez (15-4).
Heading into the bout, the obvious thought was that Rodriguez needed to keep the fight standing and keep things at range. Rodriguez has the most dynamic kicking attack in the promotion and he needed the range to maximize his chance of defeating Alexander The Great.
The first two rounds featured Volkanovski taking Rodriguez down and battering him with ground and pound. Finally, in the third round, Rodriguez got time to get his striking going. Tons of kicks and good lengthy shots were landing for Rodriguez.
Just when you thought he was building momentum, he was caught flush with a right hand that rocked him. He backed up hurt and Volkanovski didn’t let him off the hook. It wasn’t long before Volkanovski had him down and won the fight by TKO. A crushing defeat for Rodriguez at UFC 290.
What’s next after UFC 290?
Yair Rodriguez showed everyone just how special he was when he won the interim title against Josh Emmett earlier this year. He also showed how dangerous he is with that third round against the champion Volkanovski on Saturday night.
However, Volkanovski is just operating on a different level from everyone at 145. So, what’s next for Yair Rodriguez after this loss? I think there are a couple of appealing options for Rodriguez and the UFC. One option I like is a potential rematch with Max Holloway should Holloway defeat The Korean Zombie next month.
Their first fight was tremendous and both are going to need another statement win to try and earn another shot at Volkanovski. I wouldn’t mind seeing these two fight again in front of a full crowd opposed to their APEX fight in 2021.
Another option I like is a fight with Calvin Kattar. The boxing of Kattar versus the kicking game of Rodriguez. Kattar is gearing up to return this fall after a knee injury and I wouldn’t mind seeing these two fight next.
I’m not saying Brian Ortega or Arnold Allen because I have a hunch that the UFC is going to pair those two against each other. However, if they don’t, both of those men make a ton of sense for Rodriguez too. Especially Ortega given the way their fight ended.