This weekend in the headliner of UFC Long Island, we will see a pivotal matchup in the featherweight division. Top five contenders will battle as Yair Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC) takes on “T-City” Brian Ortega (15-2, 1 NC).
Both men are coming off losses as we enter Saturday. Rodriguez lost a decision to Max Holloway and Ortega lost in a title fight to Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 266. Given their recent opponents and rankings, it’s easy to see that they are squarely in the title picture.
Most notably Yair Rodriguez. El Pantera has not fought for the title unlike Brian Ortega. He has not fought UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski unlike Brian Ortega. With that, he could be a fresh challenge for the champion.
Rodriguez is flashy and has name recognition that comes with him. He’s said this week and doubled down again today that the UFC has told him that he would be next for the featherweight title should he win Saturday. Is that the case and if so, what about Josh Emmett (18-2)?
Who is next for the UFC champ?
Josh Emmett just fought Calvin Kattar in the headliner of UFC Austin. It was a very competitive fight with both men having a lot of success. Scorecards were split amongst the judges and fans, but at the end of the day, Josh Emmett got his hand raised.
The win was Emmett’s fifth straight UFC victory. He made it clear that he wants a title shot with this latest win. Originally, Emmett was supposed to sit cage side at UFC 276 to watch the trilogy play out between Alexander Volkanovski and Max Holloway.
However, there was a lot of drama that unfolded and Emmett was placed in the back section where the fighters sit. He didn’t get the camera treatment and nobody really mentioned him from the UFC. Now, we hear that Rodriguez has been told he’s getting a title shot with the win.
Complicating matters more is Alexander Volkanovski’s desire to move up to challenge for the lightweight title. Here’s what’s likely going to happen. If Rodriguez goes out there on Saturday and wins, he’s likely going to get the next UFC title shot.
It’s not fair to Emmett, but the UFC is a business and Volk – Rodriguez is better for business. If Rodriguez loses to Brian Ortega, Josh Emmett is going to get the next title shot. So, you can imagine that Josh Emmett will be the biggest T-City fan on Saturday.
There’s the outside chance that Volkanovski fights neither and fights at 155 next. However, I think the UFC will have him defend one more time before he’s ready to move up. However, if he does move up, perhaps we see Emmett – Rodriguez next.