Fight Club 5.14.2018.JPG

Up until Frankie Edgar ground-and-pounded him into oblivion, Mexico’s Yair Rodriguez was heralded as being the next big star out of the crop of young prospects the UFC was nurturing. Though Frankie soundly dominated him, exposing his deficiency in the grappling arts and takedown defense, the young martial artist showed a lot of promise, that’s why the news that he was cut from the roster came as such a shock.


Rodriguez entered the UFC back in November of 2014 at UFC 180 where he won the Ultimate Fighter Latin America Featherweight tournament. Since then, he has been undefeated with notable wins of Andre Fili, Alex Caceres and BJ Penn. His victory over Penn was more of a strategic win because the veteran Hawaiian was clearly shop-worn and in the twilight of his long and storied career. That fight set him up for the bout with Frankie Edgar, one of the top three featherweights in the world. If he had been able to defeat Edgar, he would have undoubtedly gotten a shot at the title capping a meteoric rise to the top that rivaled Conor McGregor ascent through the same division.


Unfortunately for Rodriguez, he was handed a loss by doctor stoppage from Edgar. The loss exposed his lack of wrestling fundamentals and gave the rest of the division a road map to defeating him. It was reported that he had put in some mat time with Team Alpha Male, a camp known for gnarly wrestlers. Coach Urijah Faber had to say this about Rodriguez.


“Yair’s made a lot of gains. He went and trained with Israel Martinez, he’s a very good coach, and he put him through a whole year of wrestling so his wrestling is top notch but it’s not Frankie Edgar level. When you’re a little bit fatigued and you make a small mistake and the guy can capitalize but it’s getting there.”


Most will agree that taking a year off to sharpen your skills after a loss is a good idea, especially in the wrestling grind. Learning how to wrestle is a numbers game, it takes hours of mat time to burn in the fundamentals. Though Rodiguez has a background in Judo and has a submission win here or there, he is primarily a traditional martial arts-based striker with lightning fast kicks and a ton of athleticism. Also, he is only 25 years old, a youngster who has a whole career ahead of him. In essence, he is exactly who the UFC needs.


When the news hit that he was potentially going to face Zabit Magomedsharipov, the Dagestani sensation who is currently on the rise, fight fans were excited. It was a fight many wanted to see. The fact that Rodriguez turned it down did not sit well with Dana White and the UFC Brass.


White stated, "The guy's off a year, rejects a fight with Lamas and then doesn't want to fight a guy below him in the rankings?" White asked Thursday night. "He can go somewhere else. We have no use for him.”


And just like that a promising career in the UFC is shot to hell. In the wake of Conor McGregor’s misadventures involving a hand truck and a bus at the Barklay Center In Brooklyn, a fighter who has been absent from MMA competition in TWO years, the reaction seems a bit extreme to say the least. This is just another example of the double standard that is employed by the ham-fisted Dana White. It’s an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face to call upon a reliable adage.


It’d likely that Yair Rodriguez will find a home elsewhere with another promotion such as Bellator who have been taking advantage of the release of such notable ex-UFC fighters as Rory MacDonald, Phil Davis and Matt Mitrione, fighters who are still have a lot of productive years in their fight career left. Hopefully Yair Rodriguez joins their ranks and reaches fame and fortune away from the toxic embrace of Dana White.