What’s next for Yair Rodriguez after victory at UFC Long Island?

Daniel Cunningham
Yair Rodriguez

This past weekend in the main event of UFC Long Island, we saw a pivotal headliner in the featherweight division. Yair Rodriguez (14-3, 1 NC) and Brian Ortega (15-3, 1 NC) were battling to stay in the title picture at 145 pounds.

Both men were coming off losses entering UFC Long Island. Ortega was coming off a one-sided loss to the champion Alexander Volkanovski. Rodriguez on the other hand was coming off a loss to top contender Max Holloway.

The fight started out and immediately Ortega started pressuring Rodriguez. Ortega landed some shots, but Rodriguez had the clear speed advantage and was landing the better of the shots. After the fight, Ortega said he was winning every minute at UFC Long Island and frankly I don’t know what fight he was thinking about.

Anyways, they ended up hitting the mat near the final minute of the first round. In a scramble, it was actually Rodriguez who went for an armbar. Ortega went to pull his arm out and his shoulder dislocated which caused an end to the fight. A win nevertheless for Yair Rodriguez at UFC Long Island.

What’s next after UFC Long Island?

With this win, Yair Rodriguez is now firmly in the title picture at 145 pounds. He has a key advantage in that he hasn’t fought the champion so he will be a fresh opponent. However, there is another top contender right there as well.

That top contender is Josh Emmett. Emmett has won five fights in a row and believes that he should be next for the UFC featherweight champion. Rodriguez said before the fight that he was told he would be next should he win.

So what will the UFC do? Dana White was asked about this and said he didn’t hate the idea of Rodriguez and Emmett fighting each other. Perhaps an interim title could be on the line while Volkanovski’s hand heals after he broke it against Max Holloway.

Volkanovski said he didn’t mind the interim title because it would make the next fight even bigger. With the champ on board, I think that’s what the UFC will do. Rodriguez and Emmett will fight for an interim title with the winner taking on Volkanovski likely in early 2023 for the undisputed title.