Yair Rodriguez
El Pantera


Return pushed back
June 17, 2021
Rodriguez will no longer be taking on Max Holloway on July 17 after Holloway was forced to pull out with an undisclosed injury, CC Legaspi of ESPN reports.
Rodriguez hasn't stepped foot in the Octagon since taking a unanimous decision from Jeremy Stephens all the way back in October of 2019, but this was his chance to get right back in the featherweight title picture. With the division's champion and top contender currently wrapped up in the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, it appears Rodriguez will simply have to wait for the UFC to schedule this fight at a later date when Holloway is healthy.
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Finds new opponent
May 26, 2021
Rodriguez will fight Max Holloway as the main event of UFC Fight Night 191 on July 17, Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com reports.
July 17's fight will mark the first time Rodriguez will step back into the Octagon after completing a six-month suspension handed down by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Rodriguez last fought in 2019, where he defeated Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision. The 29-year-old has compiled a 13-2-0 professional record, and has averaged 4.33 significant strikes per minute in his career. Holloway is coming off a win over Calvin Kattar in January, so it should be an intriguing main event in July.
Ready to return to Octagon
April 28, 2021
Rodriguez said Tuesday in an interview with Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com that he's ready to compete after completing the six-month suspension he received from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in December due to a whereabouts violation.
Though Rodriguez was handed the suspension Dec. 3 after he was cited for three "whereabouts failures" in a 12-month period, the ban was retroactive to Sept. 8, according to Farah Hannoun of USA Today reports. While he served the suspension, Rodriguez was also able to complete his recovery from an ankle injury that previously forced him to withdraw from a matchup with Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC Fight Night 175 last August. Rodriguez, who said that he's currently training in Mexico with Donald Cerrone, is looking to schedule a fight with Magomedsharipov or another highly-ranked opponent at some point this summer.
Suspended six months
December 3, 2020
Rodriguez (ankle) was issued a six-month suspension by the USADA on Thursday for a whereabouts violation, Marc Raimondi of ESPN.com reports.
Although Rodriguez hasn't failed a drug test, he'll be unable to fight for six months since he was unavailable for sample collections three times over the last 12 months. The suspension dates back to Sept. 8, so Rodriguez could be eligible to return to the Octagon as soon as March.
No longer facing Zabit
August 4, 2020
Rodriguez will no longer be taking on Zabit Magomedsharipov on August 29, Mike Heck of MMAFighting.com reports.
This unfortunate news was rumored earlier in the day and officially confirmed by UFC President Dana White in an interview following Tuesday's Contender Series event. What was set to be an excellent matchup and major test for Rodriguez will end up lasting less than a week, and it appears a high-ankle sprain and a fracture is to blame (per Nolan King of MMAJunkie.com). It's also unknown if the UFC will move forward with a new opponent for Magomedsharipov, or simply attempt to schedule this matchup for a later date. Zabit would have represented possibly the most difficult challenge of the young career of Rodriguez, so it makes sense for the 27-year-old to stay sidelined until he's 100 percent.
Draws Zabit in late-August
July 31, 2020
Rodriguez will take on Zabit Magomedsharipov in a featherweight matchup set for August 29 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Marcel Dorff of MMADNA reports.
Rodriguez sports a 8-1-0 (1 NC) record under the UFC banner and will now get a shot at the undefeated Magomedsharipov in a fight with major title implications. It will be an uphill battle for Rodriguez, however, as nearly every striking and grappling stat lies in the favor of Magomedsharipov. Of particular concern is the fact that Rodriguez sports just a 63 percent takedown defense, while wrestling is the foundation of Magomedsharipov's game, as he averages 5.22 takedowns per 15 mintues of fight time. Zabit, a generally large featherweight, will also hold two-inch height and reach advantages. All this will presumably lead to Rodriguez entering as a sizable betting underdog, and he'll need to keep this one on the feet to give himself a chance to land that one big shot. Should he come through, Rodriguez would immediately be in the title conversation among the likes of Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung, with all fighters looking for a shot at champion Alexander Volkanovski's belt.