Almost two weeks ago, fast-rising UFC prospect Yair Rodriguez was unceremoniously released from the company. The reason for this major decision was said to be connected to “El Pantera” supposedly turning down a couple of fights, particularly against Ricardo Lamas and Zabit Magomedsharipov.
The 25-year-old fighter never got the chance to air his side of the story, until his appearance on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour.
“I got to talk to (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby and I told him I was able to fight Josh Emmett in February in Orlando, Florida, to headline that event (UFC on FOX 28). And I accepted,” Rodriguez explained (via MMA Fighting). I stepped up, and I learned that Josh Emmett wouldn’t accept the fight, or I don’t know if the UFC didn’t want to give it to me or whatever, then I was replaced with Jeremy Stephens. Jeremy Stephens took that fight.”
“Then, after that, we sat again with the UFC and talked about a few other opponents. I talked to Sean Shelby and he told me, ‘What do you have in your mind?’ I told him I think I at least deserve a top 10 [opponent],” he continued. “No matter what happens, I think I deserve a top 10 [opponent] just because of what I already showed in the UFC. I’m 6-1 in the UFC.”
“Not all the fighters in the UFC have the same record as me. I know I’m still a rising star for the sport or whatever, but I know I have done a lot already. I know [how many] fans I have inside the sport and I don’t think I have to show anybody that I’m not afraid.”
“This, for me, was an eye-opening experience.”
Rodriguez went on to clarify that he did agree to a fight against Lamas when the UFC offered it to him, but it was Lamas who decided to take a fight against Mirsad Bektic instead. It was then when the UFC made the offer for him to fight Zabit, which Rodriguez was open to under certain conditions.
“I was like, okay, I’ll fight Zabit if you give me more money in LA because I understand how big of an event it is, and they said no,” Rodriguez said. “I was like, okay, if you don’t want to give me more money to fight him in LA, why don’t you give [the fight] to me in Russia, and there’s no need to do any negotiation for that. I want him in Russia. Why? Because he was calling me out. I’m the guy who, I never say much, I just act. I don’t have to be talking about this on my social media.
“They didn’t even want to give it to me in Russia. Then I was like, okay, you don’t want to give me more money to fight him in LA, you don’t want to give me a top-10 [opponent]. Now I’m looking — now I see how the things are going.
“I told them I will accept anyone in the top 10. I don’t need a negotiation for a top-10 [opponent],” he said. “I just think that’s what I deserved, and they didn’t want to give it to me. That was more about respect, respecting myself.”
Now a free agent, Rodriguez revealed that he has been getting “really good offers” from other promotions. But overall, he is not fretting too much about being released from the UFC.
“No hard feelings. You’ve got to move on from things,” Rodriguez said. “People live in the past too much. They live the past. I’ve been learning, this is one of the things that I’ve been learning: If you are living in the past, you’re depressed. If you are living in the future, you have anxiety. If you live in the present, you are happy.”
“So I’ve just been slowly learning how to be here and live in the moment, live in the present, and don’t let any little stuff bother me. I cannot let little stuff bother me for the rest of my life.”
“This doesn’t stop here. This is the just the beginning of something greater.”