On Saturday at UFC Vegas 60, Rodrigues authored a stunning comeback victory, rallying from a gruesome cut on the bridge of his nose to finish Njokuani with ground-and-pound in the second round. The cut was so bad that Aljamain Sterling described it as looking like Rodrigues’ face was “falling off,” and Rodrigues agrees that it was a bad cut.
“I [have] three eyebrows,” Rodrigues joked at his post-fight press conference.
“The cut was bad, but the win came and that’s worth it. I’m so happy. I expected a fight like that. We are inside the UFC. That’s the World Cup. The best fighters are here, and I’m one of them. So I’m just happy and grateful for everything that’s happened now in my life.
“My wife is just a little mad, ‘Tell the doctor to do a great job. I will come back there,’” Rodrigues added with a laugh. “But he did a great job, man, so I will look OK.”
Rodrigues’ most recent performance cemented his growing reputation as one of the most entertaining fighters in the world.
The 30-year-old Brazilian has one four of five fights inside the UFC, with the lone loss being a controversial split decision against Armen Petrosyan this past February. That nearly wasn’t the case against Njokuani though, as the cut that came close to stopping the fight was caused by an early knee that put Rodrigues in a world of trouble. Rodrigues says the knee hurt him badly, but that with the help of his corner, he was able to fight through it, which then led to the comeback win.
“I was dizzy, it was very hard,” Rodrigues said. “I fell, I was a little like, ‘Man, what happened?’ Then the blood started to come down and I was kind of blind, trying to figure out what I’m going to do. But like I said, I want to say thank you to my corner, my trainers. They did an amazing job. They started talking with me ... ‘Move the legs!’ and stuff like that. Then I tried and then I [went] back, then I thought, ‘I need to start something, I need to start to throw my bombs, throw my hands to stop him a little bit,’ because after that cut, everybody is going to be confident, try to finish the fight. Then I started to throw my hands to show him I was there, I’m still there, and that’s what happened.
“When I finished the first round and came back to my corner, I was worried about the cut,” Rodrigues continued. “My corner was like, ‘Let’s move, let’s start touching him. He already felt your hands.’ Then when it started the second round, he started to do the same, tried to pressure me, but I said, ‘I need to pressure him more.’ And one part of the fight, I felt he was tired. I felt his breath and it was different, and I said, ‘Oh man, I’m here. I’m the Robocop and I’m going to kill you,’ and I started to feel him. So when I grabbed him against the cage for the clinch, I felt his body was a little weak, so I took him down and said, ‘I’m going to finish the fight.’ And I did.
“It was a big war. I love that fight. I need to watch that again, and it’s going to teach me a lot of stuff.”
For his efforts, Rodrigues walked away with an extra $50,000, earning Fight of the Night honors along with Njokuani. It’s something Rodriguse is becoming increasingly familiar with. This is his third post-fight bonus in the UFC and he promises that fans can always expect performances like this from him, every time out.
“I can say one thing: Always when I’m inside the octagon, I’m there 100 percent, and I give you everything I have,” Rodrigues said. “I leave everything there. Always expect the best from me. I think that’s [what makes me] different. I don’t have fear [nor am I] scared about losing. Of course I want to win, but more than that I want to do my best. If I do my best, the payoff is going to come.”