Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez in works for UFC 290

Looks like we're going to see Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez at International Fight Week 2023.

By: Zane Simon | 2 months ago
Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez in works for UFC 290
Alexander Volkanovski poses at the UFC 284 weigh-ins.

If it wasn’t already clear that the featherweight champion wasn’t getting his instant rematch with Islam Makhachev next, let there be no doubt now. Fox Sports reports that the UFC is targeting an Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez title unification bout for this July, for the promotion’s annual ‘International Fight Week’ expo. News of the booking has since been confirmed by numerous outlets.

Rodriguez won his piece of gold back in February, with a 2nd round submission victory over Josh Emmett for the interim UFC featherweight title. After winning the belt, the 30-year-old Huntington Beach Ultimate Training Center talent called for a chance to bring the titles back together in his native Mexico, an idea that seemed only that much more possible following Alexa Grasso’s upset win over Valentina Shevchenko, giving the UFC three current Mexican champs.

Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez won’t take place in Mexico

“Actually, I talked to Alexander Volkanovski in the past—in Dallas,” Rodriguez said after his win over Emmett. “Not that much with him, but with his manager. He asked me, ‘Would you be able to go to Australia? Will you go to Australia?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, why not. Yeah, of course I’ll go.’ So, I stick to my word and I came here, won the interim title. And now I want to ask the UFC to take this belt, this championship fight to Mexico City, in September—whenever they open the UFC Performance Institute, so we can do it there.”

Want September in Mexico City? Sorry, July 8th in Vegas is all we got.

The International Fight Week Expo is set to run from July 3rd to July 9th with UFC 290 taking place at the T-Mobile Arena. No other bouts have been announced for the card at this time, so it’s not clear yet whether Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez will serve as the card’s headliner, or whether it will share top billing with a second title fight.

Volkanovski will have to wait for another crack at Makhachev

The longtime Freestyle Fighting Gym and City Kickboxing standout will enter this bout against Rodriguez fresh off the first defeat of his UFC career—a competitive five round decision loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev back in February, on that very same card where Rodriguez won the interim title. Alexander ‘The Great’ had hoped to secure his second concurrent belt at UFC 284, but struggled to deal with his Dagestani foe’s combination of pressure striking and wrestling.

That said, an exceptionally strong fifth round performance from Volkanovski had the 34-year-old feeling very much like this was a fight he could win, given another crack at it. Despite having previously said he would drop back down to defend his title at 145, Volkanovski immediately started campaigning for a rematch instead.

“Rematch? Let’s do it. Done. No doubt, rematch it is. Immediately,” Volkanovski told reporters in the aftermath.

Sounds like nobody’s getting exactly what they wanted out of Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodriguez—except for fans, who should be treated to an exceptional bout in the featherweight division.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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