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Yair Rodriguez reacts to UFC 284 interim title shot: ‘I kind of saw it coming, so I didn’t really care’

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Backstage at UFC 277, Yair Rodriguez and his manager were in talks with Alexander Volkanovski and his team about a potential title shot. Rodriguez had just defeated two-time title challenger Brian Ortega and felt he deserved to fight the featherweight champion.

During or after this pay-per-view nothing was fixed on paper. Volkanovski, after all, was still aiming for a two-division gold. But when he officially made the choice in favor of Rodriguez, it hurt the Mexican opponent a little. It was then that a message appeared on social networks to the champion: “Are you a man of your word?”

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“[It was] not a promise,” Rodriguez said on Hour of MMA. “We had a conversation; we talked to his manager, [and they said]“Are you really going to Australia to fight this guy?” Yes, let’s go. This is what we do. Why should I say no?

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“I thought we didn’t have a deal, but we were talking about it and I thought he was going to say, ‘OK, let’s go.’ But he would have preferred 155 pounds. I don’t blame him. It’s probably a bigger opportunity than fighting me and I don’t blame him. I think he is making the right moves for his career, that’s all.”

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Volkanovski is now scheduled to fight lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in the UFC 284 headlining event. On the same day the fight was announced, Rodriguez received a call as a backup and will face Josh Emmett for the interim title in the February co-main event. . 12 pay-per-views in Perth, Australia.

It is unusual for the UFC to field an interim divisional belt at the same event where its champion competes for another undisputed belt. But for Rodriguez, this is the last step towards his real goal.

“It’s not indisputable Yair Rodriguez reacts to UFC 284 interim title shot: ‘I kind of saw it coming, so I didn’t really care’
,” he said. “I understand it’s like a bridge. It’s the final decision to go for the belt. Or if Volkanovski decides for some reason not to come back to 145 pounds, the belt goes to whoever wins, in this case it’s me.” .I won’t feel like a champion if I don’t fight for a real belt.”

The decision to fight for the interim belt comes with a logistical hurdle for Rodriguez and his team; he must obtain tourist visas in order to settle in Down Under as soon as possible. The time difference makes it possible to acclimatize as much as possible. The process can take two months or two weeks in this climate.

“As soon as I can do that, I will be there as soon as possible so that I can adjust to the time and put on a better performance,” he said.

Rodriguez still hasn’t considered Emmett as a rival, though they briefly trained together when both were under the roof of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. Emmett beat rising UK contender Arnold Allen for an intermediate innings. Rodriguez did not doubt the dignity of the American.

“I just think anyone who deserves a title shot is good enough,” he said. “We are at the top of the division. None of us are bad at all. We are good at what we do and I think we deserve this opportunity too. They just offered me Josh Emmett and I immediately accepted because, as I tell you, you can’t turn down an opportunity like that. It just needs to move forward.”

Rodriguez’s career took several well-documented turns after he withdrew from the UFC due to his choice of opponent; he was briefly dropped from the promotion in 2018 after reportedly refusing to face then rising challenger Zabit Magomedsharipov. He returned to the promotion and went 2–0 with one loss, including a KO win of the year against Jang Sung-jung, before a victory over Ortega that returned him to the win column after losing a decision against former-champion Max Holloway.

The fact that he is a man of the company brought dividends to Rodriguez, which he is not going to doubt.

“Well, of course I feel happy,” he said. “This is an opportunity that I think no one should pass up. This is really a great opportunity for me and I am very happy for it. Of course, I would rather fight for a real belt than a temporary one, but I’m in that situation now and I’m not against it. I have a pretty strong opponent in front of me that I have a lot of respect for, and I just have to go and do what I do best, which is fight, and win.

“I kind of foresaw it coming, so I didn’t really care. Whatever. I knew that soon I would have the opportunity to fight for the belt, and I did not care. I wish both guys the best. I have nothing against Islam, but I hope Volkanovski wins.”



Source: www.mmafighting.com

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