This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 42, we saw a featherweight showdown between two of the best in the world. Former undisputed champion Max Holloway (23-6) was back as he took on the returning Yair Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC).
It was the first time that Rodriguez had fought in over two years so you could say the UFC was throwing him into the fire. Back in January, Holloway put on his best career performance when he dismantled Calvin Kattar on Fight Island.
Given the layoff and how Holloway looked, nobody was giving Rodriguez a chance. Despite being ranked in the top five, Rodriguez was a massive underdog. Holloway could be found as a -800 favorite which is insane to think about given how talented Rodriguez is.
However, nobody really knew what to expect. Well, Rodriguez showed up in a big way at UFC Vegas 42. From the opening bell, he went right after Holloway. He landed brutal calf kicks and big combinations up top. He even seemingly hurt the former champion a couple of times.
However, the champion showed great resolve and came on strong as the fight went on. In the end, Holloway did enough late and fought hard to win a decision, but the fight couldn’t have been closer in my opinion.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 42?
Yes, Yair Rodriguez did not get his hand raised this past weekend. However, he didn’t walk out of UFC Vegas 42 a loser. In fact, his stock rose in my opinion given the way that he fought the former champion.
Given the way his last fight went, what should the UFC do next. In my opinion, there are two fights that I think would be perfect for Rodriguez. The first fight is against “T-City” Brian Ortega (15-2).
Ortega only has two losses and both of those came in UFC title shots. There’s no doubting that Ortega is the third best featherweight in the world. Rodriguez is near the top as well and he proved that on Saturday night.
I think that once these two heal up after the wars they’ve had, a showdown in the spring would be a sensational fight. Another wildcard option would be Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1).
It’s now been over two years since Zabit has last fought in the UFC. However, when he was fighting, he was being looked at as a world champion. Him and Rodriguez have been paired together a couple of times and the fight has always fallen through.
Zabit’s management has said that he’s getting ready to come back. Whenever he’s ready, I think a fight between him and Rodriguez would present an interesting new challenger for whoever is the featherweight champion at the time.