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UFC contender Yair Rodriguez suspended six months for USADA violation

The UFC featherweight contender did not test positive for a banned substance.

UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez v Stephens Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

We have an answer to Dana White’s cryptic message about Yair Rodriguez’s fighting future.

On Thursday, USADA announced that the UFC featherweight contender has been suspended for six months after three Whereabouts Failure violations. The last failure occurred in September, which means he’ll be eligible to return in March.

From the press release:

Rodriguez failed to update his Whereabouts information and was unavailable for testing at locations provided in his Whereabouts Filings on three occasions. He accrued a Whereabouts Failure in each of the first three quarters of 2020. The accumulation of three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period constitutes a policy violation under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

Rodriguez was eligible for a reduction in the period of ineligibility because his conduct did not raise suspicion that he was trying to avoid being available for testing. He received reductions based on his degree of fault and for his Full and Complete Cooperation.

Rodriguez’s six-month period of ineligibility began on September 8, 2020, the date on which his third Whereabouts Failure was declared against him.

White said last week that he didn’t expect Rodriguez would be fighting any time soon, but didn’t disclose further. Those who speculated that it was something USADA related proved to be right, as USADA did recently amend its rule about disclosing potential violations until either the fighter reveals it publicly or the case is resolved.

You may recall that Nick Diaz, who hasn’t fought since 2015, served a one-year suspension for his Whereabouts Filings failures, so it could’ve been a lot worse for Rodriguez.

Yair hasn’t fought since October 2019, when he bested Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision in their immediate rematch following an unfortunate eye poke ending to the first contest. He was scheduled to face Zabit Magomedsharipov in August, but withdrew due to an ankle injury. If the UFC wants to rebook that matchup (again), then March isn’t too far away.