Max Holloway is considered by many to be the uncrowned 145-pound champion and the stakes are in his favor five to one for Saturday’s main event at UFC Apex in Las Vegas (1 p.m. ET, ESPN +), but Mexico’s Yair ‘ Pantera ‘Rodríguez doesn’t believe in any of that.
Holloway said he will dominate the fight for five rounds and promises a display similar to the one he gave in January, when he broke a record for significant punches against Calvin Kattar.
“I congratulate you on your plan, but the truth is not going to be that easy. He has never faced a rival like me. Although it sounds incredible, even if it is Max Holloway, I see the fight finished with a completion on my part, with a knockout or a submission, ”Rodríguez declared in an interview with ESPN Deportes.
It was 25 months before Rodriguez returned to action from a week-long fight. Injuries from rivals, surgery on his part and a six-month suspension from USADA sidelined him, although the Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua native believes it brought him a lot of learning.
“It has been two years of inactivity. It was not a time that I took on purpose, but it was and it served me. We stayed well focused on trying to improve mentally and physically and we grew little by little until we reached this point, ”added Rodríguez.
In particular, it gave him time to review his latest Octagon appearances, such as his last one against Jeremy Stephens, who dominated widely in the first round, but was paired near the end.
“More than anything, I grew up mentally and in experience. More in the last fight, not getting desperate too quickly, being colder in the fight, is part of maturing as well. I trust myself a lot and I go from the first round one hundred percent. You have to be aware that you have to reach a point where you have to go down to go back up, you have to maximize energy in combat, “he declared.
The winner of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America has already been close to a title fight in the past, but has never had such a clear opportunity.If he defeats the number one classified, there would be no way to prevent him from facing Alexander Volkanovski for the scepter . Rodríguez, however, does not allow himself to be distracted despite all the noise around that.
“There is a clear opportunity, although in this specific sport anything happens. I’m not thinking about the championship, but about Max Holloway. Volkanovski or whoever has the belt there stays, now we are one hundred percent in Max, ”Yair replied.
After suspending his camp at the height of Mexico City in June due to an injury to Max, the Mexican worked hard with two companions, José Alberto ‘Teco’ Quiñonez, who fought for six years in the UFC, and Alejandro ‘ Pato ‘Martínez, from the third season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America. They both have good foot play and are capable of setting guard like Holloway.
His corner will be unprecedented, with Israel Martínez as his fight coach, Pedro Camberos in striking and Luiz Claudio in jiu-jitsu. In addition, his sister Alondra will accompany him, as his brother Rigoberto did in the past.
“We are very proud of the team we have right now, I don’t really need someone to do exactly what Max does, but an idea and I work on mine and on the holes that Max has, which is what we have been working on”, explained.