UFC 290 Main Event Preview: Alexander Volkanovski – Yair Rodriguez

Feb 12, 2023; Perth, WA, AUSTRALIA; Islam Makhachev (red gloves) fights Alexander Volkanovski (blue gloves) during UFC 284 at RAC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasmin Frank-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow night in the main event of UFC 290, we will see a unification bout for the featherweight championship. The champion Alexander Volkanovski (25-2) is back at 145 as he takes on the interim champion Yair Rodriguez (15-3).

Volkanovski is back at 145 after he challenged Islam Makhachev for the lightweight title at UFC 284. The featherweight champ pushed Makhachev to the absolute limit and lost a very close decision. However, if it was judged based on Pride rules judging the whole fight, Volkanovski likely wins that bout.

Now, he returns to his weight class where he is a perfect 12-0 inside the octagon. His last performance at 145 was an all timer against former champion Max Holloway. Volkanovski brutalized Holloway over the course of five rounds to move to 3-0 against the former champion.

On the same night Volk challenged Makhachev for the lightweight title, Yair Rodriguez finished Josh Emmett to become the interim featherweight champion. Rodriguez has won two in a row, granted, one was an injury TKO against Brian Ortega. Counting that, he’s 3-1 in his last four with the lone loss coming against Max Holloway. He will look to pull off the massive upset at UFC 290.

UFC 290 Prediction

Yair Rodriguez is a difficult puzzle to solve. He’s very long for 145 and he’s incredible fast. Not too mention he might have the best kicking game in the entire division. To beat him, you have to be persistent, take away his weapons and come with a high Fight IQ and a great game plan.

Well, there’s no one at 145 with a better IQ than Alexander Volkanovski. The champion is incredibly smart and the champion is the most well-rounded fighter in the division. His timing on his striking is second to none and he is not afraid to go anywhere with anyone.

When it comes to UFC 290, I lean a lot on the championship experience of Volkanovski. I think that Rodriguez is going to start fast and throw a lot of heat and kicks early. He might even win the first round. However, I see Volk really downloading that data and he’ll start to break down Rodriguez over the next few rounds.

By the championship rounds, the gap between these two is really going to show much like it did when a young Yair Rodriguez fought Frankie Edgar. I think Volk makes a massive statement tomorrow night showing the world why he should be the UFC’s P4P king. I think he gets a late stoppage in this one.

Prediction: Alexander Volkanovski by TKO – Round 5