Yair Rodriguez will always appreciate compliments on his fights, but it’s much harder for him to feel the same way after a difficult loss.
That’s exactly how he addressed his war with Max Holloway from this past November. The 29-year-old Mexican-born featherweight battled the former champion for five rounds, earning “Fight of the Night” honors, yet he still lost by unanimous decision.
“I know a lot of people were happy because of the fight,” Rodriguez, who on Saturday faces Brian Ortega at UFC on ABC 3, explained on The MMA Hour. “It was a great fight but for me, it was a lot of experience, but I didn’t get the result I wanted. I’m not happy with my results, to be honest.
“I think that I still need a lot of work, to work on myself a lot more, and it was kind of eye-opening for me. [I’m] here, still learning, I’m moving forward.”
Outside of his previous losses to reigning featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski, Holloway has largely dominated competition at 145 pounds. But Rodriguez made him work extremely hard for 25 minutes to get the win. The fight went back and forth at moments, and Rodriguez absorbed over 250 strikes from Holloway in the process.
The $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus was a nice reward for Rodriguez. But he would much rather have a win to show for it.
“It was an amazing fight against an amazing opponent, but I didn’t really celebrate that much,” Rodriguez said. “I was happy because it was a great fight, and everybody was happy with it. But inside of me, I was like, ‘F***, I lost. I’m not happy, 100 percent.’”
The aftermath of that battle also forced Rodriguez to take time off before scheduling his next appearance at UFC on ABC.
“There is some things that you’ll never heal,” Rodriguez said. “You’ll have pains here and there but nothing serious.
“It’s a contact sport, you’ve got to get used to it and you’re moving forward in the sport and you’re growing, you’re getting older and stuff, some things never go away. Like little pains here and there, but I healed completely. It took me a couple of months in order for me to be better, but here we are.”
If there’s been one problem that’s plagued Rodriguez more than others, it’s been the amount of time he’s been forced to the sidelines. He’s had only six total fights over the past five-plus years. Injuries play a part in that, and his contract dispute with the UFC also caused delays.
The one-time The Ultimate Fighter winner doesn’t look at time off as a detriment to his career. Instead, he just does his best to take full advantage of the time he has available so he’ll be even better when he makes his return.
“I actually like that — I like taking my time off,” Rodriguez said. “Healing completely, and I understand why some people see you take time off, you won’t come back. We do this for a living.
“Reactionally, we’ll be there and you won’t forget how to fight. You get more time to prepare for yourself. It’s nothing crazy taking some time off and coming back.”