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‘Are you a man of your word?’ - Yair Rodríguez questions Alexander Volkanovski

‘El Pantera’ wants the reigning featherweight champion to stick around and give him his title shot. 

Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42.
Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Yair Rodríguez wants to remind UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski of the contenders he should be facing off against before he attempts to become a two-division champion.

Following his fourth successful defense—a unanimous decision over Max Holloway at UFC 276—Volkanovski told the rest of the featherweight division that he wanted to see a ‘clear No. 1 contender’ before he returns. Fights such as Calvin Kattar vs. Josh Emmett, Yair Rodríguez vs. Brian Ortega, and Calvin Kattar vs. Arnold Allen were scheduled, but their results left much to be desired. Emmett got a controversial split decision, while Rodríguez and Allen saw their headliners end after unfortunate injuries suffered by their opponents.

With none of those fighters getting a stand-out win that would warrant a championship opportunity, the ‘Great’ has decided to pursue newly crowned UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev for his next Octagon appearance. However, not everyone seems very happy with his decision to move up now.

As Volkanovski and Makhachev exchanged words on social media over their potential fight, ‘El Pantera’ chimed in to call out the City Kickboxing product for UFC 284 next year.

“Hey [Alexander Volkanovski], are you a man of your word? We had a talk in Dallas. Everyone knows I’m next,” wrote Rodríguez.

The ‘talk’ Rodríguez referred to stemmed from a brief hotel run-in between him and Volkanovski when both fighters were in town for UFC 277 this past July. At the time, the champion was still dealing with the broken hand he suffered in the aforementioned fight against Holloway. Though understanding of his plight, the No. 2 featherweight was clear that he should get the first shot at Volkanovski when he recovered.

“What is in my mind right now is fighting Alexander Volkanovski,” said Rodríguez (video provided by MMA Fighting). “And that’s always in my mind.”

Unfortunately for Rodríguez, assuming the Makhachev vs. Volkanovski fight stays on track, his title shot may not come for a while.