Alexander Volkanovski hypes up ‘dangerous’ Yair Rodríguez ahead of title unification at UFC 290

Alexander Volkanovski knows how dangerous Yair Rodríguez is ahead of their title unification during International Fight Week.

By: Kristen King | 1 month ago
Alexander Volkanovski hypes up ‘dangerous’ Yair Rodríguez ahead of title unification at UFC 290
Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 273 | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Ahead of his champ vs. champ fight against Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 this past February, Alexander Volkanovski said there was nothing more exciting than facing a new challenge. That was Dagestani wrestling, the style that Makhachev was using to ‘throw around all these lightweights’ during his UFC run. As a featherweight moving up a weight class, some, including Makhachev, thought Volkanovski was ‘too small’ to deal with the reigning UFC lightweight champion. 

In a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate, Makhachev retained against Volkanovski. However, the notion that the ‘Great’ was going to have a tough time with the Khabib Nurmagmedov protégé was dispelled as he more than held his own when they faced off in the Octagon. Though he suffered a loss, the City Kickboxing product was pleased with how he dealt with Makhachev. And now, he has a new challenge ahead of him in interim UFC featherweight champion Yair Rodríguez. 

Alexander Volkanovski dubs Yair Rodríguez ‘a dangerous fighter’

To Volkanovski, one of the greatest strengths Rodríguez has is his versatility. ‘El Pantera’ has ended most of his fights on the feet and on the ground, which is why the UFC featherweight champion sees him as a real threat to his reign. 

“I’m looking at him as a real challenger, like he’s a dangerous fighter,” said Volkanovski to Oscar Willis of TheMacLife. “He could be one of the [most] dangerous fighters I’ve fought really. When you talk about unpredictability and knockout power and so many different tools, you need to take him really serious. I think I’m the best fighter in the world, so am I confident? Yeah, but I know not to take this guy lightly. He’s been dominating and looking good in his last few fights.

“In his last one [against Josh Emmett], he looked great,” continued Volkanovski. “The one before that, he was looking great and then you had what happened. But he was looking really good before that [injury] happened with Brian Ortega. But again, very unpredictable, so it’s exciting for me. New challenges.”

When he compares the old and new versions of his upcoming opponent, Volkanovski sees a ton of growth. In fact, his improvements have the 34-year-old preparing a ‘master’ game plan to ensure he gets his hand raised. 

“He fought more at one range,” said Volkanovski. “He was very good with his flashy stuff, but that’s all he sort of cared about. He was real comfortable at that range. Now, he looks like he’s a lot more comfortable at all ranges. He looks very unpredictable, when you’re pressuring him at a long range, no matter where it is, he can fire all different things from all different angles. That’s always a big threat, so it’s good. That’s when the master game planning and the fight IQ and all that type of stuff needs to come in, and [I’m] looking forward to it because, again, that excites me.”

When is Volkanovski vs. Rodríguez?

Volkanovski vs. Rodríguez is set for UFC 290, the upcoming pay-per-view event scheduled for Sat., July 8, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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