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Tonight, Yair Rodriguez will return after a two-year layoff when he faces Max “Blessed” Holloway in the UFC Vegas 42 main event. However, it is well known that he was scheduled to face Zabit Magomedsharipov multiple times before landing this bout against Holloway. The fight has yet to come together, with Rodriguez being responsible for it falling through each time. Here’s a look at an article from earlier this year of Rodriguez responding to allegations of fight ducking.
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED APRIL 29, 2021, 8:01 AM]
Yair Rodriguez has grown tired of hearing about how much he is supposedly ducking Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Considered by many to be the Khabib vs. Ferguson of the UFC’s featherweight division, a fight between Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov just doesn’t seem destined to happen. After multiple cancellations, even Dana White recently had to throw in the towel and give up on the prospect of these elite featherweights coming together in a dream matchup. What has not escaped the attention of MMA fans, though, is that each cancellation has come from the Rodriguez end.
In 2018, Yair Rodriguez reportedly rejected the Magomedsharipov fight and was ultimately released by the UFC in large part because of this rejection. After returning to the promotion, Rodriguez has been booked to fight Magomedsharipov on two other occasions, both of which were also canceled due to Rodriguez suffering an injury. Since returning to the promotion after his release, Rodriguez has gone 2-0, but the name of “Zabit Magomedsharipov” remains a glaring absence from his record.
Because of the fact that Rodriguez was once released in connection to declining a fight against Magomedsharipov plus the fact that he has now withdrawn from a booked fight against the Russian multiple times due to injury, “El Pantera” has been accused of outright ducking Magomedsharipov in a narrative that has now persisted for years.
Speaking to ESPN in a recent interview, Yair Rodriguez explained the silliness of all those who believe this about him.
“It’s been over three years that it’s been the same story over and over and over and over again,” Rodriguez began. “It’s just hard to believe that some people will think that of professional athletes in general, that they think they’re ducking somebody. For what reason?
“Why would somebody duck anybody else? Who do you think he is or who does he think he is in order for me to duck him? Is he a kind of god or what? No, man, we are all competing here in the same weight class. It doesn’t matter, bro.”
Rodriguez then articulated, in no uncertain terms, where he stands on the issue of fighting Zabit Magomedsharipov or anyone else on the UFC roster for that matter.
“I’m ready to fight him or I’m ready to fight anybody. I don’t care, bro,” Rodriguez assured. “I’m here to fight. I don’t know how to explain better than that. For people that think that I’m ducking him or whatever, that’s up to you, man, not up to me. I’m here. I had my contract signed every time that I was going to fight him. But things happen. What do you want me to do?”
Rodriguez stated that he would like to make his return in July. Meanwhile, not only is Zabit Magomedsharipov also not booked, but as of this writing, he has been mysteriously and suddenly removed from the official UFC rankings, so there may be a major story brewing in connection to this sudden development.
Keep it locked right here on MMANews.com for updates on when Yair Rodriguez will return to the Octagon and against who, as well as any updates on Zabit Magomedsharipov’s status.