Rodriguez returns to action for the first time since is decision win over Kevin Lee in August 2021 to face Holland in a 180-pound catchweight bout at UFC 279, which takes place Sept. 10 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The card will be headlined by a welterweight bout between Khamzat Chimaev and Nate Diaz, but from top-to-bottom, it lacked the depth typical UFC PPV events offer. “D-Rod” believes this is a can’t miss addition.
“Since being injured, that name has been thrown at me so much,” Rodriguez told MMA Fighting. “This fight is for the fans if you ask me. I think we’re the real main event as far as matchups go. This f****** fight has got me really excited, I’m excited to get back at the T-Mobile Arena, and I think we helped the card get a little bit better. In fact, I think we helped make that card f****** dope.
“I’m excited to see how much the fans are excited to see a f****** war.”
Rodriguez told MMA Fighting during International Fight Week that he was eyeing Holland as a possible opponent, but the main goal after being cleared to compete following multiple surgeries to repair a hand injury was to get the call for a short notice fight.
Being able to check off multiple boxes on the wish list — while also not having to cut weight down to the welterweight limit — makes the road to his return a little bit sweeter.
“They could’ve asked me to fight f****** anybody and I would’ve said yes, but luck of the draw right there,” Rodriguez said. “Me and him get to squash a little beef. I was scheduled to fight him in my second [UFC] fight, he got injured, he’s been talking s***, and I get to do it’s time for me to speak with my hands.
“There’s only been a handful of guys trying to call me out, trying to fight me, and I respect being called out. I accept the challenge in every way, but I just didn’t like how he was calling me out when I was injured and I couldn’t do s*** about it. I’m 100 percent now and I accept the challenge.”
Rodriguez debuted in the promotion in February 2020 where he picked up a short notice submission win against Tim Means at UFC Rio Rancho and became one of the UFC’s most active fighters before injuring his hand in the victory over Lee. The 35-year-old has won three straight, and six of seven octagon appearances, which includes a dominant decision win against Mike Perry at UFC Vegas 21 in April 2021.
Holland, who is also no stranger to being an active UFC competitor, is 2-0 with two submission wins over Means and Alex Oliveira since moving down to 170 for the first time in his promotional run.
After a year away from competition, Rodriguez is ready to remind fans he’s one of the best welterweights in the UFC.
“[The headline will read] D-Rod’s comeback, he went out there and dominated,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t tell you how I’m going to win the fight, I just know I’m going to win the fight.”