The first of the three shuffled bouts on the UFC 279 PPV main card witnessed Daniel Rodriguez squeak by the promotion’s #14 ranked welterweight, Jingliang Li, with a split decision. It should be noted that Li moved up in weight on one-days notice for this one.
Li threw a ton of kicks to score, and used a lot of footwork and head movement to avoid the big blows of Rodriguez, but it wasn’t enough in the eyes of two of the three judges. The jab of Rodriguez was finding a home, and lead him to now being on a four-fight winning streak. How did you score this one?
The size discrepancy was blatantly clear as soon as the fight started. The much smaller Li was having a bit of trouble finding his range against Rodriguez. Li began attacking with kicks, striking from range to the legs and body. The jab of Rodriguez was his most effective weapon, jousting at Li to keep him away. Li did manage to buckle Rodriguez with a leg kick, in a round that was kind of hard to judge.
Li continued to struggle to find the range with his punches to begin the second round. Meanwhile, the straights of Rodriguez were hitting the spot. It was back to the kicks for Li, but Rodriguez decided to start attacking the legs as well. The fight got a little sticky, with neither man really opening up for an extended period of time. In the pocket, Li landed a big right hand that caused Rodriguez to back up several steps. It was probably the most meaningful strike of the bout up until this point. The round ended with Li catching a kick and scoring a takedown at the bell.
Li stayed with his kicking attack in the final frame, still attacking the body and the legs alike. Rodriguez was slowly marching forward, but Li was utilizing solid footwork to not get walked down. Li was also doing a good job of moving his head in the pocket to avoid a lot of the punches of Rodriguez that weren’t a jab.
Daniel Rodriguez def. Jingliang Li by split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29): 180-pounds
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