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Yair Rodriguez announces UFC return, Zabit Magomedsharipov fight at UFC 228

UFC 192 Media Day
Yair Rodriguez is once again a UFC fighter.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Yair Rodriguez is sticking around after all.

On Friday, ESPN reported that the 25-year-old featherweight’s dispute with the UFC has been resolved and that he is expected to fight Zabit Magomedsharipov at UFC 228 on Sept. 8. Rodriguez himself issued a statement on Saturday expressing his gratitude at being back with the promotion.

“After the conversation I’m happy to know that the UFC and I are in the best terms ever and now I’m back in track to chase my dreams of become [sic] a UFC champion,” Rodriguez wrote about a meeting that was set up between himself and UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby. He referred to the dispute as the product of “a big miscommunication and bad timing” and confirmed that he expects to fight Magomedsharipov in Las Vegas.

This ends a three-week saga that began with Rodriguez being informed that his time with the UFC was up. The release was related to a public disagreement that Rodriguez and company president Dana White had over the announcement of a fight between Rodriguez and Magomedsharipov, with Rodriguez tweeting that the bout was “fake news” and White responding via Twitter that it was “real news.”

White accused Rodriguez of avoiding fights, which Rodriguez disputed on a recent episode of The MMA Hour.

“I got to talk to Sean Shelby and I told him I was able to fight Josh Emmett in February in Orlando, Florida, to headline that event (UFC on FOX 28),” Rodriguez said on the show. “And I accepted. I stepped up, and I learned that Josh Emmett wouldn’t accept the fight, or I don’t know if the UFC didn’t want to give it to me or whatever, then I was replaced with Jeremy Stephens. Jeremy Stephens took that fight.

“Then, after that, we sat again with the UFC and talked about a few other opponents. I talked to Sean Shelby and he told me, ‘What do you have in your mind?’ I told him I think I at least deserve a top-10 [opponent]. No matter what happens, I think I deserve a top-10 [opponent] just because of what I already showed in the UFC. I’m 6-1 in the UFC. Not all the fighters in the UFC have the same record as me. I know I’m still a rising star for the sport or whatever, but I know I have done a lot already. I know [how many] fans I have inside the sport and I don’t think I have to show anybody that I’m not afraid.”

Rodriguez (10-2) also said that there had been offers from other promotions, though he couldn’t offer specifics at the time.

He denied White’s claim that he turned down a fight with one-time UFC featherweight title challenger Ricardo Lamas and stated that his main goals were getting a top-10 opponent and renegotiating his contract. Regarding those goals, Magomedsharipov sits just outside the top 10 of the UFC’s official rankings and it is not known whether Rodriguez’s contract has undergone any changes.

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