Top UFC featherweight prospect Yair ‘El Pantera’ Rodriguez spoke recently to the media ahead of his eagerly awaited UFC 211 potential title-eliminator against the legendary Frankie Edgar.
Yair Rodriguez is a young man who not only stands as one of the UFC’s most talked-about prospects, but he also could well possess the most entertaining and unpredictable style on the roster today, period.
If you have not yet seen ‘El Pantera’ perform, then I urge you to check out virtually any of his UFC fights to date (but in particular his bouts with André Fili, BJ Penn and Alex Caceres) and give yourself a sense of exactly what type of animal we’re dealing with this Mexican superstar-in-the-making.
Rodriguez’s loose, untelegraphed and seemingly random offensive style has seen him rack up a perfect 6-0 record inside the UFC and with his latest win over the former two-weight world champion BJ Penn, Yair now finds himself facing the biggest test of his life at this weekend’s UFC 211.
The electric, exhilarating and enthralling taekwondo attack of El Pantera has been matched up for a potential ‘fight of the night’ with the former UFC lightweight champion and all-round fan-favourite, Frankie Edgar.
Edgar, whose last matchup was a win over the hard-hitting Jeremy Stephens at UFC 205, has been a mainstay in the UFC’s top-tier for what seems like an age and though his run at 145lb has only seen him lose out to the great José Aldo, in Yair he faces a truly unique challenge to his unquestionable championship pedigree.
Rodriguez, despite having his focus entirely on this weekend’s opponent in Edgar, spoke recently to FightHubTV about the featherweight division and how the departure of the former-champ Conor McGregor has influenced its current landscape.
McGregor, who, of course, defeated José Aldo at UFC 194 in a stunning 1st round KO, was stripped of his title after his victory over Eddie Alvarez to win the lightweight belt at UFC 205, and though Aldo’s UFC 200 win over the aforementioned Frankie Edgar was enough to see him promoted to the position of undisputed champ once more, Rodriguez just doesn’t seem to be convinced by the Brazilian’s claim to the throne.
“Max Holloway (the interim champion) is the [undisputed] champ right now. It doesn’t matter that he lost to Conor McGregor, because Conor McGregor is no more around. Until he comes back and he fights for the title he’ll be the champion but, of course, no one can take that belt away because he already won it. But, the champ right now is Max Holloway.”
“I don’t know if it’s going to happen [a fight between himself and McGregor] because I don’t know if he’s coming back to MMA, but, you know, I think it’s going to be great, if one day it happens I think it’s going to be great. He’s such an athlete. I respect him and I look up to him he’s really smart. You know, his boxing is really good is kicks are really good.”
“I would love to be in a fight with him, you know, why not?”
Indeed a featherweight encounter between the undeniably entertaining Yair and the utterly devastating McGregor could well be a match made in heaven but with the incredibly tough and durable Frankie Edgar still standing in his way, the 24-year-old future-contender will know that his focus will need to be on point in order for his career to progress onto its next stage.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena