After his loss at UFC Mexico, what’s next for Yair Rodriguez?

MMA: UFC 290 - Volkanovski vs Rodriguez
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Mexico, we saw a rematch in the featherweight division. Former interim champion Yair Rodriguez (18-5) was looking to get back on track as he took on “T-City” Brian Ortega (16-3).

The two men had previously fought in 2022 with Rodriguez getting the TKO win. However, the win came after Ortega severely injured his shoulder while going for a submission and the fight had to be stopped. Rodriguez followed up that fight by dominating Josh Emmett to become interim champion before losing to Alexander Volkanovski in a title unification bout.

When the fight started on Saturday night, it looked like Rodriguez was going to get another TKO win. He dropped Ortega twice in the first round and looked moments away from finishing him. However, Ortega was able to recover and see round two.

In the second round, Ortega used his wrestling and Rodriguez couldn’t get back up to his feet spending the majority of the round on his back. In the third round, Ortega got another takedown and moved immediately into mount. From there, he secured an arm-triangle and the fight was over handing Rodriguez the loss at UFC Mexico.

What’s next after UFC Mexico?

This was a tough setback for Yair Rodriguez. He’s definitely amongst the best featherweights in the world, but he’s facing a tough narrative now. While he has some sensational wins, he’s now lost to Ortega, Volkanovski, and Max Holloway. Because of prior heat, he had a chance to get a crack at new UFC champion Ilia Topuria, but he let that fall through the cracks with this loss.

So the question becomes, what’s next for Yair Rodriguez? I personally love the idea of Rodriguez facing someone like Arnold Allen. Rodriguez has lost two fights in a row to two of the best featherweights in the world. Arnold Allen is in that same boat having just lost to Max Holloway and Movsar Evloev.

These two squaring off would allow one of them to stay in and around the top five while the other would really have to take a step back with the UFC and evaluate where they currently stand.

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