UFC: Is the Volkanovski trilogy or McGregor rematch next for Max Holloway?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 42, Max Holloway (23-6) took on Yair Rodriguez (13-3, 1 NC). Holloway entered the bout as a massive betting favorite on the heels of his insanely dominant performance against Calvin Kattar back in January.

However, it was apparent from the opening round at UFC Vegas 42 that this was going to be a different fight. Rodriguez started out insanely strong and I think it caught Holloway off guard a bit. It took Holloway a little to find his rhythm and Rodriguez was landing bombs.

Halfway through the fight, we saw Holloway really start to turn it on. The former UFC featherweight champion turned up the pressure and mixed things up beautifully. All of this played a huge role in him winning the latter half of the fight.

In the end, the judges gave Holloway a unanimous decision victory. It was Holloway’s second victory of the year and it puts him in a great position as the calendar gets ready to turn over to 2022.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 42?

There are a few options on the table for Max Holloway at the moment. The obvious choice seems to be the trilogy fight with Alexander Volkanovski (23-1) for the UFC featherweight title. So far, Holloway is 0-2 in his bouts against Volkanovski.

However, a majority seem to believe that Holloway won the second fight despite two of the judges giving the fight to Volkanovski. Holloway has established himself as clearly the second best featherweight in the world behind the champion.

It’s basically Holloway and Volkanovski then a gap before you reach the next contender. However, there is another option out there for Holloway if he isn’t interested in challenging Volkanovski for a third time.

That option would be moving up to lightweight for a rematch with Conor McGregor (22-6). These two have playfully gone back and forth for years after their first meeting years ago. McGregor won their first fight by decision.

McGregor even shared a video of him staring down Holloway during Holloway’s introduction at UFC Vegas 42. Holloway has expressed interest in fighting McGregor once The Notorious one returns which should be in the late spring. Time will tell, but there are some good options for The Blessed Express.

What’s next for Yair Rodriguez after UFC Vegas 42?

Yair Rodriguez

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.

Max Holloway defeats Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42

In the main event of UFC Vegas 42, we saw a showdown between two of the best featherweights in the world. Former featherweight champion Max Holloway (22-6) was making his second appearance of the year when he took on Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC).

Rodriguez was making the walk for the first time in over two years. Despite the lengthy layoff, Rodriguez still entered UFC Vegas 42 as the third ranked featherweight in the division. His last fight was a victory of Jeremy Stephens back in October of 2019.

During this stretch Rodriguez has dealt with injuries as well as a suspension. He was hoping to pull off a huge victory today which would put him right in line to challenge Alexander Volkanovski for the UFC featherweight title.

However, that was going to be a very tall order considering his opponent. Max Holloway was a massive betting favorite entering today’s contest. He put on one of the greatest performances in UFC history in his last fight against Calvin Kattar.

The only man to have bested Holloway at featherweight over the last few years is Alexander Volkanovski. Outside of the champion, Holloway has looked unstoppable and he was looking to make another statement at UFC Vegas 42.

UFC Vegas 42 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Vegas 42 featherweight contest kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Holloway takes the center and started with the pressure. Rodriguez lands the first strike with an inside leg kick. Holloway lands a nice right hand to start his striking.

Check left hook lands for Rodriguez. Step in right hand lands for Holloway. Inside leg kick for Rodriguez. Holloway steps in and gets caught with a combination from Rodriguez. Holloway lands a nice right hand that snaps the head back of Rodriguez.

Body shot for Holloway and he follows with a nice jab. These two are just trading in the pocket right now. Big combination lands for Rodriguez who is showing no fear. Right hook from Holloway but he gets his head snapped back from Rodriguez.

Both men exchange big body kicks. Calf kick from Rodriguez. Holloway’s front leg is getting eaten up by calf kicks from Rodriguez. Another one slams home. Then a sharp 1-2 from Rodriguez rocks Holloway. However, Holloway rocks Rodriguez with a 1-2 of his own.

Right hook from Rodriguez and Holloway counters with a sharp shot of his own. Holloway looks to spin but Rodriguez grabs a body lock. This is where the round ends and a very good one for Rodriguez who takes the first at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 2

These two couldn’t wait to get the second started at UFC Vegas 42. They touch gloves and they’re back at it. Another big calf kick lands for Rodriguez and he doubles it up. Pressure here from Yair Rodriguez. Another good kick from Rodriguez.

Straight left hand lands for Rodriguez. Holloway steps in but he’s eating shots from Rodriguez. Check right hook lands on the chin from Rodriguez. 1-2 lands for the former champion. Lead left hook lands for Rodriguez. Body shot from Holloway but Rodriguez lands a big body kick counter.

Big straight right hand lands for Max Holloway. However, he eats three straight calf kicks from Rodriguez. Holloway stepping up the pressure here. Combinations from Holloway who appears to be pressing on the gas. Rodriguez lands a 1-2 to get some space.

Another calf kick from Rodriguez. Holloway presses Rodriguez against the fence but it’s Rodriguez who is landing the better shots along the fence. Jab to the body from Holloway. Another calf kick from Rodriguez.

Nice combination lands from Holloway. Holloway lands a big flying knee to the body and that might’ve hurt Rodriguez. Holloway trying to pour it on in the final seconds here. The second comes to a close and I still think it goes to Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 3

Entering the third at UFC Vegas 42 and the momentum might be shifting here. Holloway goes right back on the pressure to start the third round. Both men trade jabs to start the striking. Holloway pushes Rodriguez against the fence and lands another flying knee.

Another knee to the body from Rodriguez. Calf kick lands from Rodriguez on the break. Holloway lands a straight shot but eats a combination from Rodriguez. Double jab from Holloway. Rodriguez goes for a kick but eats a shot that takes him off his feet.

Holloway jumps right on him and ends up in the mount. Rodriguez bucks but gives Holloway his back. Holloway staying patient in this dominant position. Big shots land from Holloway. Holloway is picking his shots here trying to maintain the position.

More big shots from Holloway but Rodriguez slips out. Back to their feet and immediately Rodriguez starts landing bombs on Holloway. Rodriguez lands a takedown but Holloway pops right back up. Huge 1-2 lands for Max Holloway.

Body kick from Holloway. More pressure from Holloway. The two trade jabs and Holloway shoots for another takedown and gets it. The round ends with Holloway on top and the former champion takes his first round at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 4

Entering the main event rounds at UFC Vegas 42 and while Holloway won the last round, Rodriguez still looks game. They touch gloves and here we go in the fourth. Holloway goes right back on the pressure and lands a lead left.

Right hand from Rodriguez. They both step forward and trade massive shots in the pocket. Another big exchange by both men and they end up in a clinch. Rodriguez pushes Holloway off but Holloway goes right back on the pressure.

Holloway gets Rodriguez against the fence and he lands some good shots. Standing guillotine attempt from Holloway and it’s deep. Rodriguez goes to his back to defend but now Holloway is on top. Rodriguez slips out of the choke.

Huge elbow lands for Holloway. A little separation and Rodriguez tries to attack a leg lock. However, Holloway slips right out and goes right back into the top position. Holloway slips right into the mount and he starts going to work.

However, Rodriguez gives up his back but is able to scramble to get back up. Knee to the body from Holloway and they’re back to striking. Holloway goes for a flying knee but it misses and he eats a counter. 1-2 from Holloway and then Rodriguez throws a flying knee.

Head kick from Rodriguez who is throwing heat in the final minute of the round. Good combination from Rodriguez. Spinning back kick from Holloway. More big shots from Rodriguez to end the round. I have this one 2-2 entering the final round at UFC Vegas 42.

Round 5

Entering the final round at UFC Vegas 42 and I think it’s anyone’s fight. They hug before the final round and here we go. Nice 1-2 from Rodriguez who knows he has to go in the final round. Body kick from Rodriguez.

Another good body kick from Rodriguez who is throwing major heat here in the final round. Pressure from Holloway now as he lands a 1-2. Nice knee from Holloway and he lands a nice shot. Lead elbow from Rodriguez and he follows it with a spinning back fist.

Holloway pushes Rodriguez against the fence and starts going to work. Rodriguez looks weathered but he circles along the outside to get things at range. Nice 1-2 lands for Holloway. Rodriguez is looking tired and tries to land a wild kick.

He landed a nice shot but ended up on the ground with Holloway on top. Worst case scenario for Yair Rodriguez. However, Rodriguez reverses and he ends up on top. Holloway tries for an armbar to scramble and it works as Holloway gets to his feet.

Spinning elbow from Rodriguez but flush knee counter from Holloway lands. Body kick from Rodriguez. Another good combination from Rodriguez. Rodriguez pushing forward in the final minute but eats a good shot.

Calf kick from Rodriguez and then he follows with a head kick. Holloway gets a body lock but Rodriguez uses an elbow to separate. More good shots from Rodriguez. Spinning back to the body lands for Rodriguez.

Final ten seconds at UFC Vegas 42 and they end in a clinch. Incredible fight. I would give the final round to Rodriguez and give the fight to him, however, I was really torn on that second round. Could’ve easily gone to Holloway and I think that’s how the judges would vote.

Max Holloway def. Yair Rodriguez by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)

UFC: Will Giga Chikadze replace Holloway against Yair Rodriguez?

Last week we learned that the main event between former UFC champion Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez was off. Holloway sustained an injury and had to pull out of the Fight Night main event that was scheduled for July 17th.

At first, it looked like the UFC was focused on getting the fight rescheduled. However, we have now learned that the promotion has been shopping for replacements in order to keep Rodriguez on the July 17th card.

The top name on the replacement list is the native of Georgia, Giga Chikadze (13-2). Chikadze made his UFC debut back in September of 2019 and he’s already fought six times for the promotion. He’s gone a perfect 6-0 inside the octagon.

After some close decisions to start his UFC career, Chikadze has been incredibly dominant. His last two performances really stood out as he stopped James Krause-Simmons and Cub Swanson in the first round by TKO.

The Cub Swanson victory was incredibly impressive and Chikadze has been moving up in the UFC‘s welterweight division. The promotion has called Chikadze about being the replacement and he says he’s accepted. However, he posted on his Instagram page that Rodriguez is playing games.

Will the UFC book the fight?

As you can see from the above video, Chikadze has accepted the UFC’s offer to replace Holloway. However, Rodriguez has yet to accept the fight and is said to be weighing his options.

A lot will come down to how long Max Holloway is going to be out. Rodriguez hasn’t fought in nearly two years and he needs to get back in the cage. However, it’s obvious that he relishes the opportunity to fight someone like Max Holloway.

Giga Chikadze is an incredibly dangerous fight for Rodriguez. Chikadze could use him as a stepping stone and Rodriguez wouldn’t gain a ton by picking up the win himself. If Holloway isn’t going to be out too long, I expect Rodriguez to hold out for the former UFC champion.

However, if Holloway’s return is going to take some time, he should take this fight with Chikadze. He needs to get back in there and Chikadze would be a great fight for him.

UFC books headliner between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez

The UFC has finalized a sensational headliner in their featherweight division. Dana White broke the news tonight to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that the promotion had finalized a main event between Max Holloway (22-6) and Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC).

The matchup will headline a UFC Fight Night on July 17th. This is by far the biggest opportunity in the career of Yair Rodriguez. Rodriguez has had a ton of hype surrounding him since he joined the UFC a few years ago.

His flashy style and highlight reel knockouts made him an instant fan favorite. However, he was rushed to the top quickly and Frankie Edgar completely dominated him at UFC 211. That loss alone forced Rodriguez to stay away for over a year.

Once he made his UFC return, Rodriguez knocked out Chan Sung Jung in the final seconds of their fight. A year after that matchup, he defeated Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision.

The problem for Rodriguez has been his activity level. Since the Frankie Edgar loss at UFC 211, Rodriguez has only fought three times. Due to a suspension and injuries, this fight against Holloway will be his first since October of 2019.

The former UFC champion returns

Back in January, Max Holloway fought in his first non-title UFC fight for the first time since 2016. The former champion was coming off back-to-back losses to Alexander Volkanovski and he was looking to make a statement.

Standing in his way was Calvin Kattar. Kattar played the part of sacrificial lamb as Max Holloway put on a performance like we’ve never seen before. Holloway set virtually every UFC striking record as he battered Kattar for five rounds.

The Max Holloway we saw in January looked like the best featherweight in the world. After that performance, it looked like Holloway would get his title shot in the summer.

However, Alexander Volkanovski got COVID and his UFC title fight with Brian Ortega was pushed back. So, Holloway was left with either waiting things out or taking another fight. When the UFC offered him this main event, he jumped at the chance. If you’re a fight fan, you should be pumped for this one.

UFC: Yair Rodriguez suspended by USADA

Yair Rodriguez

The world is going to have to wait a little longer for Yair Rodriguez‘s UFC return. Earlier this afternoon, ESPN reported that the top five featherweight has been suspended for six months by USADA and will not be eligible to compete until March.

However, the suspension is an interesting one. Rodriguez was not suspended for failing a drug test. Instead, the top UFC featherweight was suspended for not updating his location inside the USADA tracker for random testing.

Rodriguez did this three times in the span of 12 months which triggered the suspension. Over the weekend, Dana White gave some interesting answers regarding Yair Rodriguez. He stated in the post-fight press conference that Rodriguez wouldn’t be fighting anytime soon.

However, he didn’t announce why Rodriguez wouldn’t be fighting. A few days later and we have our answer. This is truly a headscratcher and in my opinion a very stupid reason to be suspended. However, it’s on Rodriguez for not following simple instructions.

UFC Return

It’ll be interesting to see what the promotion does with Rodriguez once he returns in March. Rodriguez was originally supposed to take on Zabit Magomedsharipov back in August in a UFC title eliminator.

Whoever won that fight was going to be in prime position to take on Alexander Volkanovski. Of course, Rodriguez went on to break his ankle and the fight was cancelled. The UFC has tried several times to make that fight, but it’s fallen through each time.

Since then, things have been extremely quiet on the Yair Rodriguez front. Considering the suspension dates back to September, we now know why things have been so quiet between the UFC and Yair Rodriguez.

If the promotion still hasn’t found Zabit a fight by the time March rolls around, the UFC should still try to book that matchup. However, if Zabit has been booked, another fight for Rodriguez could be the loser of Max Holloway/Calvin Kattar or a rematch with Chan Sung Jung.

UFC: Alexander Volkanovski eyes two key fights for next title defense

Everything has been pretty quiet at the top of the featherweight division since UFC 251. Champion Alexander Volkanovski (22-1) has been in a state of limbo since he defeated the former champion, Max Holloway (21-6), for the second time.

The second fight was razor close, and at first, the UFC seemed interested in putting on the trilogy. However, Volkanovski didn’t seem interested as he had just defeated Holloway twice in his eyes. Can’t really blame the guy for wanting to move on.

Since then, the UFC has abandoned the idea. Now, Volkanovski is eyeing two key featherweight contests to determine who will face him next. Those two contests are the Chan Sung Jung – Brian Ortega fight and the Zabit Magomedsharipov – Yair Rodriguez fight.

Who will be the next contender for the UFC featherweight crown?

On the upcoming fights, the UFC featherweight champion said to MMA Junkie, “I want these guys to go out and take their number one contender spot. Right now, if someone was just given the shot, it’s not a big fight.” Volkanovski wants his next fight to generate a ton of interest.

“At the end of the day, it’s what the UFC and fans want. It also depends on their performances. If someone has a big knockout, submission or a dominant performance, it can solidify them as the next guy,” Volkanovski said.

Brian Ortega (14-1, 1 NC), Chan Sung Jung (16-5), Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1), and Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC) would all be deserving of a UFC title shot with a win. But whoever wins those contests must do it impressively. Sound like the most impressive could get the next shot at the champ.

What about Holloway?

As I pointed out above, originally the UFC was interested in a trilogy fight with Holloway. However, Volkanovski wants to see Holloway get active again in the division before he grants him another shot at the title. He does seem interested in the trilogy eventually.

“Even though I’m 2-0, there still seems to be unfinished business. I think it could definitely happen, but not anytime soon,” Volkanovski told MMA Junkie. My guess is that Holloway is going to be paired up with someone like Calvin Kattar (22-4) before the year is over.

There is a lot of fluidity right now in the featherweight division. The UFC champ is happy to just watch it all play out. Whatever fight generates the most interest after all these matchups, Volkanovski will be ready for it and ready to defend.

UFC BREAKING: Zabit Magomedsharipov – Yair Rodriguez off due to an ankle injury

Yair Rodriguez

One of the more anticipated UFC featherweight contests of 2020 will not happen. Dana White confirmed this evening that Yair Rodriguez (13-2) has injured his ankle and will not headline the August 29th fight night against Zabit Magomedsharipov (18-1).

What does the UFC do?

The UFC has tried to make this fight multiple times over the last couple of years. Injuries have continued to get in the way of this fight being a reality.

Zabit and Rodriguez are two of the brighter stars in the UFC‘s lower weight classes. The fight between the two of them was likely to determine who would face Alexander Volkanovksi next for the featherweight title.

As ESPN’s Ariel Helwani suggested, Calvin Kattar has offered to step in to face Zabit in the main event of the August 29th card. Kattar and Zabit do have history.

The two men just fought and headlined a fight night back in November. Zabit won the three round main event, but Kattar was really coming on strong at the end. Many believe that Kattar could have won if it had been a traditional five round main event.

Kattar would make sense from a rankings perspective, but there’s no word on if Zabit would want to fight Kattar back-to-back. There are a couple of additional options for Zabit at 145 pounds.

Other Options

The UFC has been trying to book Chan Sung Jung and Brian Ortega for some time now. White has said that the UFC is close to booking that fight. However, maybe the promotion looks to see if one of them would be interested in stepping in to face Zabit.

Another outside the box option could be giving Max Holloway a call to see if he’d take the fight. The former champion could really establish that he should get another shot at Volkanovski if he can beat Zabit.

White said the Rodriguez has a high ankle sprain and a fracture. It’s unlikely, but if he recovers quickly, the UFC could shift gears to move up a main event and move back the Zabit – Rodriguez fight. Many options are on the table and we should expect the UFC to move quickly on this one.

 

UFC: Zabit Magomedsharipov Confirms Long Awaited Yair Rodriguez Fight

Zabit Magomedsharipov, UFC

Zabit Magomedsharipov versus Yair Rodriguez is one of those fights that just seemed like it was never going to happen. There were talks about it since 2018 but a number of things came up that made it seem less and less likely as time went on.

First, it seemed like Rodriguez was out of the UFC after declining the fight. Then, he was back. And then injury kept the fight from happening at UFC 228. There’s been a lot of events since then and this matchup probably moved to the back of a lot of people’s minds.

However, it’s finally happening, as Magomedsharipov confirmed on Instagram by sharing the official fight poster.

The fight announcement we’ve all been waiting for

The caption that Zabit wrote on the post is pretty fitting and describes the whole situation.

“Two years later, on the third attempt, this fight will still take place,” he said.

It’s one of the most exciting fights that fans could ask for, as Rodriguez and Zabit are both in the conversation for the top rising fighter in their division. Zabit is undefeated in the UFC with only one loss overall while Rodriguez has an unconventional fighting style and never puts on a boring performance.

Based on how long everyone has been waiting for this one, it’s safe to say this will be the main event of the upcoming Fight Night 176 card on August 29th. The event is set to happen from the UFC Apex facility. Some of the other fighters on the card include Anthony Smith, Ricardo Lamas, and promising light heavyweight Aleksandr Rakic.

But let’s be real. After waiting a couple of years for this fight, it’s probably the one we’re all looking forward to on this card.

UFC: Max Holloway could get the next title shot according to Dana White

It was very clear that UFC president Dana White was not a fan of the decision at UFC 251 between featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, and former champion, Max Holloway.

The fight left the UFC in a bit of a pickle when it comes to what happens next. If Holloway had only lost that one time to Volkanovski, the promotion would have no issues booking the fight again.

However, Holloway has lost two consecutive fights to Volkanovski. Yes, the second fight was razor close, but still it’s two losses in the record books. With that, most thought that there is no way that the UFC would give Holloway another shot especially right away.

Despite that, White said to ESPN that, “It’s hard to not…” when considering booking Volkanovski – Holloway 3. White went on to talk about how Volkanovski wouldn’t enjoy that idea.

What should the UFC do?

The UFC is really in a tough spot when it comes to the featherweight division. The UFC is going to book Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez but that’s not finalized yet. They are also going to book Brian Ortega – Chan Sung Jung but that fight is also not finalized.

Those are all the contenders in the division outside of Calvin Kattar. I’m not convinced the UFC loves the idea of giving Kattar a shot at the title right now.

So with everyone booked, either Volkanovski is going to sit for a while or they run the fight back a third time. I definitely understand the frustration this would bring from the champion.

Volkanovski really has nothing to gain from fighting Holloway a third time meanwhile Holloway has everything to get back. Both of these fighters are so evenly matched. A third fight between the two would create more problems than solutions.

What if Max Holloway wins a close fight? How could you then deny Volkanovski a fourth fight since he won the first two? If you give Holloway another shot, it really hurts the division.

While he might not want to, I think the best thing would be for Volkanovski to sit on the sidelines for a bit. Maybe let Holloway fight a guy like Calvin Kattar next. Let the division play out more before giving Holloway a third fight with Volkanovski.