For the first time in a long time there will be someone with a UFC featherweight belt not named Alexander Volkanovski or Max Holloway. In the co-main event of UFC 284, Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett will be competing for the interim title with an expectation that the winner will either face Volkanovski in a unification bout or have the belt converted to the real thing, should the Australian permanently vacate the title.
Rodriguez and Emmett reach this point after somewhat of a bumpy road, that has included a couple of false-starts for both men. And neither has really stamped their authority as the no-doubt number one contenders in the division. But that doesn’t matter now. Both have equal opportunity to make themselves a champion and prove they deserve to be there.
And, as far as we at BE are concerned, most of believe it will be Rodriguez who gets his hand raised. The flashy striker has been picked by seven staffers here. With just two of us stumping for Emmett.
You can see who picked whom below. And don’t forget to tell us who you are picking the comment section!
Yair Rodriguez vs. Josh Emmett
Anton Tabuena: Emmett has the boxing and the power to cause serious problems, which gives me some pause. If he doesn’t get clocked often early, Yair should have the more dynamic striking game, and should be able to control distance and range better, especially as the fight progresses. Yair Rodriguez by decision.
Zane Simon: Both Emmett and Rodriguez have climbed to the highest levels of MMA with games that, while not one-dimensional, have been channeled into fairly narrow expressions of combat technique. For Emmett, he’s added some off-speed strikes and some target variety, but he’s often still just a head-hunting clubber who relies on consistency and durability to keep him primed to land fight changing shots. For Rodriguez, his high-output kicking game and whirling cacophony of range offense, is married to some dynamic wrestling and grappling, but he’s still a fighter who can be entirely stifled by someone willing to pressure though his distance attack and land strikes and takedowns. While Emmett could do that, he’s lower pace and willingness to stay at distance and re-set often just makes me feel like he’ll spend way too much time in spaces where Rodriguez is more likely to be both busy and surprising. Given that Rodriguez is insanely tough, I’m not gonna bank on a one-punch KO, even from a guy with Emmett’s power. Yair Rodriguez by decision.
Tim Bissell: I feel Emmett’s offense for go, will prove out over Rodriguez’s offense for show. I see him staying disciplined and weathering the storm that is Rodriguez’s high risk, high reward striking game to great effect; scoring with solid strikes and honing in on a takedown or two. I don’t think it will be particularly crowd pleasing, but it will get the job done. Josh Emmett by decision.
Staff picking Rodriguez: Eddie, Chris, Kristen, Dayne, Stephie, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Emmett: Lucas, Bissell
This poll is closed
About the author: Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. (full bio)