In the main event of UFC 290, Yair Rodriguez faced off against featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovsky in a highly anticipated matchup. Despite being the interim titleholder, Yair Rodríguez was a significant underdog in the fight, with many fans and analysts expecting Volkanovsky to dominate.
and still ?
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) 9 July 2023
Unfortunately for Yair Rodriguez, those predictions proved to be accurate. From the opening bell, Volkanovsky was able to take down Yair Rodríguez and control him to the ground. Rodriguez showed glimpses of his trademark striking skills, but was unable to land any significant blows throughout the fight.
In the latter rounds, Volkanovsky opened with his striking and landed several hard shots that clearly hurt Rodriguez. Despite this, Yair Rodríguez showed incredible heart and toughness, refusing to go down in the third round until his right hand hurt him badly. Volkanovsky opened with a flurry of strikes, scored a well-timed takedown, and then followed with some ground and pound. To conclude.
While the loss is undoubtedly disappointing for Rodriguez, he can hold his head high knowing that he gave it his all against one of the best fighters in the world. He will likely take some time off to regroup and work on his game before returning to the Octagon. With that said, let’s take a look at what may be next for the former Interim Featherweight Champion.
Calvin Katar (23-7) is coming off the first consecutive loss in his career. In his most recent outing, he suffered an ACL injury mid-fight when he defeated rising contender Arnold Allen. His stock hasn’t dipped after the recent loss, and he remains one of the elite fighters in the featherweight division. He is a dangerous striker with excellent boxing skills, and will provide an interesting stylistic matchup for Rodriguez and certainly a good help if he wants to eventually get back in the title shot.
Arnold Allen (19-2) faced his toughest competition to date when he defeated former featherweight champion Max Holloway in his most recent contest. Although it didn’t suit him, his stock didn’t drop and he is still one of the best fighters in the featherweight division. He will be striving for a title shot, and a fight against former Interim Champion Yair Rodriguez will certainly help him get there. Other than that, this would be an excellent fight but the two best featherweights on the planet cause problems for each other.
Giga Chikadze (14-3) is a rising star in the featherweight division and is currently coming off a one-sided loss to Calvin Katar that has put him out of commission for a while. Although he is coming off such a one-sided loss, it will be a very exciting battle between two of the best kickboxers in the featherweight division. This fight builds up to be a very exciting fight for the fans and I am sure the UFC would love to book Chikadze for his return fight to the octagon if both accept it.