In 2002, Rodriguez was on top of the MMA world when he defeated Randy Couture to become the UFC heavyweight champion. At the time, he was just 25 years old and seemed to have the world in front of him. Three fights and three losses later, Rodriguez was out of the UFC and his life began to spiral out of control, but now there's hope that Rodriguez is turning things around and working towards redemption.
Last night in Waterloo, Iowa, the now 32-year-old Rodriguez knocked out veteran journeyman Travis Fulton, earning his sixth straight win.
Before the fight, Rodriguez, who at one time weighed over 300 pounds and has fought at heavyweight for years, told The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier that he had plans on changing his weight class.
"This will shock a lot of people, but I'm really looking forward to dropping down to 205 and the light-heavyweight division," Rodriguez told the paper, who noted that he showed up to the pre-fight press conference at a "svelte 218."
Rodriguez told the paper that he still dreams of returning to the UFC and working towards another shot at the title.
Any sort of return to a major promotion would mark an impressive personal redemption tale for Rodriguez, who in Nov. 2006, was suspended by the California State athletic commission after testing positive for both cocaine and marijuana in a post-fight test. At one time, he ballooned to around 350 pounds. He detailed his personal problems during a stint on VH1's "Celebrity Rehab" show in early 2008.
With a winning streak in hand and a 12-2 record dating back to June 2008, Rodriguez, who is now based in Baton Rouge, La., is 41-11 overall.