UFC featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez has discussed how it feels to be preparing to face friend Brian Ortega in today’s crucial UFC Long Island headliner.
After the lightweights took center stage at last weekend’s event in Las Vegas, it’s the turn of the 145lbers on July’s third card, and they’ll get the chance to throw down in front of a crowd-filled arena in New York today.
Headlining what is a stacked card, which features the likes of Jack Shore, Miesha Tate, Li Jingliang, and Shane Burgos, will be elite featherweights Rodriguez and Ortega.
The stakes are set to be high come July 16, especially for the Mexican, who recently claimed that he’s been promised a title shot with a victory over “T-City” on Long Island.
With that in mind, today’s headliner certainly represents the exact opportunity that “El Pantera” was after. But he can’t say the same about the man he’ll be sharing the cage with…
Rodriguez Didn’t Want To Fight Ortega Unless He Had To
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Rodriguez discussed his good relationship with his upcoming opponent, who, like the Mexican, has a Hispanic heritage and is based in Southern California.
While Rodriguez admitted that both he and Ortega would much rather have followed paths that remained separate, their journeys have brought them together for an opportunity that Rodriguez says was too good to turn down, no matter who it came against.
“I mean, we talked about it, you know, and the opportunities… Like, we didn’t want to fight each other unless we had to,” Rodriguez said. “Now, this is an opportunity for both of us, and we have to fight each other. As I say before, it’s not the opponent I wanted, but the opportunity I wanted. Here we are, facing each other with this big opportunity. This is an important fight.”
With that in mind, Rodriguez will look to put the friendship aside when he returns to the Octagon for the first time in 2022. Should he send Ortega, who last competed in a second failed attempt to capture gold, on a two-fight skid, it stands to reason that the Mexican could be opposite reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski in the cage soon enough.
Although Josh Emmett may have something to say about that, having claimed in an interview with MMA News that whatever the result is later today, he still deserves the next shot.
Who do you think will have their hand raised in today’s UFC Long Island main event, Yair Rodriguez or Brian Ortega?