Daniel Rodriguez never backs down from a challenge and that includes winning a marquee fight on just two weeks’ notice.
On Saturday night at UFC Vegas 35, Rodriguez showcased his striking skills to bloody and batter Kevin Lee throughout the second and third rounds to win a unanimous decision. It was Lee’s first fight back at welterweight after declaring his intention to stay at 170 pounds moving forward but Rodriguez gave him a rude welcome with all three judges scoring the fight 29-28 in his favor.
“Hell yeah, I’m happy,” Rodriguez said following the win. “Any time you guys need a short notice call, I’m your man. I’m ready every time. I was able to stuff his takedowns and work my game. If you ask me, that’s seven wins in a row.”
In his first fight back at welterweight since a brief appearance in the division in 2019, Lee looked physically bigger this time around as he made some necessary adjustments to compete at 170 pounds. While he looked comfortable exchanging strikes with Rodriguez on the feet, Lee’s best offense came from a takedown late in the opening round as he turned up the pressure with his grappling and ground and pound.
Lee looked to duplicate that performance in the second round, although Rodriguez did a better job reversing positions and eventually getting back to his feet from the takedown. On his feet, Rodriguez was much more comfortable as he blasted Lee with leg kicks and several hard combinations that had the former interim lightweight title contender on wobbly legs.
Just before the second round ended, Rodriguez clipped Lee with a perfectly timed overhand left that forced him to dive into a takedown to hold on until the horn sounded.
Rodriguez looked to turn up the pressure after Lee was visibly rattled as he upped his volume during the final five minute session. While Lee was able to secure an early takedown, he couldn’t maintain control and Rodriguez was quick to make him pay once the fight got back on the feet.
From there, Rodriguez was pumping out a quick jab and then tossing out solid left-right combinations that were constantly finding a home on Lee’s chin. When the final horn sounded, Rodriguez had done more than enough to secure the win as he moved to 6-1 in the UFC overall.
As for Lee, he’s once again stuck in an impossibly tough situation after making the move up to welterweight but falling short in his first fight back at 170 pounds.