The scenarios for Yair Rodríguez in 2022 after the battle against Max Holloway

The scenarios for Yair Rodríguez in 2022 after the battle against Max Holloway

The return of Yair ‘Pantera’ Rodríguez after 25 months out of the Octagon made it clear that he is ready to compete with the best. He fought one of the best fights of the year against former champion and number one ranked in the category, Max Holloway, to convince himself that he is close to a title fight.

However, the competition at this point will obviously not be less, although the Mexican fighter has proven to be spectacular and capable of offering incredible finishes. In 10 appearances within the UFC, he earned eight bonuses, and now it’s time to take the leap.

Once the doctors confirmed that he will not require surgery on his right foot, which was the most affected by the fight on Saturday, Rodríguez started his rehabilitation in Las Vegas and if everything goes in order, he could fight in the spring of 2022.

The opponents deck is large. It is led by Brian Ortega in a confrontation that for both will be uncomfortable due to the Mexican origin, but if an opportunity to be the next challenger is in the way, they could not miss it. There are also top-ranked fights looming like Dan Ige versus Josh Emmett and Giga Chikadze with Calvin Kattar.

Arnold Allen is expecting a fight soon, so it looks like he will have an opponent before the chihuahua is ready; however, it would also make an attractive fight for featherweight.

The scenarios can be so likely, that if Holloway decides not to fight for the title in a trilogy fight with champion Volkanovski, Yair could stay very close to the finish line. However, that decision is made by the Hawaiian, who dreams of a millionaire rematch against Conor McGregor when the Irishman is back, but Nate Díaz, Dustin Poirier and even Jorge Masvidal are also in that line.

This is how the panorama of rivals looks for Rodríguez for 2022.

Brian Ortega

It seems the clearest option. If Volkanovski and Holloway face off in the trilogy, the match makes sense; both come from losing in spectacular battles.

His path in recent years has been similar, with involuntary absences, but with solid comebacks. They shared rivals such as Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung, Frankie Edgar, and Holloway himself. They are 2 and 3 in the ranking, so logic will put them face to face sooner or later.

If the UFC wants to return to Mexico in 2022, this fight could fill the Arena Ciudad de México, even more so if it is a numbered event in case Brandon Moreno defends his belt and can go as a champion in front of his people.

Alexander Volkanovksi

It seems like a long shot, but the champion is in a rush to fight and Holloway looks undecided. He spoke of super fights, which are probably more financially attractive to him than a third with the Australian.

We will see how much patience the UFC has for a star like Max and how the situation develops, since within the top 5 only Korean Zombie comes from a victory and we cannot forget that he lost both with Rodríguez and Ortega.

Yair could say he hasn’t had his shot at the belt, and that would help him. However, for the moment, Alexander and Holloway have the floor.

Edson barboza

The Brazilian comes from losing to Giga Chikadze, but he is a threat with his striking. Like the Mexican, he surprises with his kicks and looks like a fight that no UFC fan would despise. It seems like another guaranteed bonus for both of us.

Yair has normally chosen to face opponents that are above him in the rankings and although it is not the case with Barboza, if it is a victory that can give him the necessary bonuses to stay in the conversation as a challenger.

Giga Chikadze or Calvin Kattar

There are ways to lose and it seems that the unevenness that Kattar’s fight against Holloway ended up being earlier in the year sent a couple of boxes back in his applications. However, beating someone like Chikadze could catapult him again and even climb the rankings.

Giga has spent months campaigning to be the challenger and has his toughest test; if he finishes Kattar he can raise his hand after quality wins against Cub Swanson and Barboza.

To stay Holloway vs. Volkanovski, the winner of this match could face Yair to be the next official contender.

Dan Ige or Josh Emmett

Another fight that we will see in the following weeks and we cannot leave behind. Ige has a style similar to Holloway’s, frontal and high-volume hitting that could give another work of art if Rodríguez would lend himself. But in front of him he will have Emmet first, who has shown that he can knock out anyone at 145 pounds and he will not be an easy opponent.

The winner can raise their hand too, but they seem like a step back from the competition.

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