Of all the options they had to choose from, Josh Emmett is happy the UFC chose him and Yair Rodríguez to fight for the interim UFC featherweight championship.
Before he moved up from featherweight to lightweight in pursuit of champ-champ status, reigning king Alexander Volkanovski said his original division needed to ’sort itself out’ and produce a clear No. 1 contender for him. The ‘Great’ shouted out Emmett, Rodríguez and Arnold Allen as potential challengers, but their respective wins recently were considered controversial.
Emmett defeated Calvin Kattar by split decision, and Rodríguez and Allen earned TKO wins over Brian Ortega and the aforementioned Kattar after their opponents suffered injuries. Despite the controversial nature of their wins, the UFC settled on Emmett vs. Rodríguez next. It was a choice the Team Alpha Male product feels was absolutely the right one.
“I thought I was the clear choice,” said Emmett at his UFC 284 media day (video provided by MMA Fighting). “If you look at my win record, the streak I’m on, the actual opponents I’ve beaten in the top 10, top five, I thought for sure I was next. I know Allen and Yair were thrown in the mix. It is what it is. Who knows what would have happened?”
Emmett also addressed those who thought his interim title opportunity was undeserved. Regardless of how close his fight with Kattar was, the 37-year-old pointed out he still won.
“The thing I see with people saying about title fights, saying he possibly didn’t deserve it because of a close fight,” said Emmett. “When you play a sport, you win. Say you’re in the NBA in the Western Conference Finals. If they win in overtime by one point, do they not get to go to the NBA Finals because it was a close game? No. They won. The winner advances. That’s how things happen, even in any type of bracket-situation. You win, you move on. It doesn’t matter. I’m trying to finish the fight every chance I get. I’m definitely not trying to let it go the scorecards. But a win is a win, and that’s what happened.”
Should he defeat Rodríguez and claim the interim championship, Emmett expects to unify titles with Volkanovski next in what he describes as a ‘massive’ fight. Of course, that will have to wait until after the City Kickboxing product finishes his business with Islam Makhachev.
For Emmett, the opportunity to fight a pound-for-pound great like Volkanovski is worth the wait.
UFC 284 is set for Sat., Feb. 11, at RAC Arena in Perth, Australia. Rodríguez vs. Emmett serves as the co-main of the upcoming pay-per-view event.
About the author: Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016. (full bio)