A featherweight clash between former UFC champion Max Holloway and #3 contender Yair Rodriguez is this weekend’s main event bout at UFC Vegas 42.
Also titled UFC Fight Night 197, the fight card is set to take place at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday night with a five-fight main card and six preliminary bouts.
All attention will be on Holloway vs. Rodriguez, however, as it marks the return of Holloway following his absolutely fantastic effort against Calvin Kattar in January. Holloway’s one-sided beatdown of Kattar will be remembered as one of the best performances of 2021 and he now steps back into the Octagon in an attempt to secure one more victory and yet another shot at champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Read on for the Holloway vs. Rodriguez betting odds and our UFC staff predictions for UFC Vegas 42 main event.
Holloway vs. Rodriguez betting odds
Holloway vs. Rodriguez predictions
Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez is a captivating match-up because across from one another we have two masters of distance. Either man uses this mastery of range in largely juxtaposing ways to implement very different game plans. For Holloway, his distance control is largely about using as little movement as possible to be just outside his opponent’s attacks so he can re-enter and counter on his terms fluidly and with little effort. By using his range control so effectively, he shortens the time needed between each engagement and puts on a furious pace.
For Rodriguez, he is as creative as they come, and with any artist, he wants as much freedom and comfort to create as possible. Therefore he utilizes many particular techniques in order to consistently force his opponents to stay at the exact distance where he can move from all angles with any degree of attack. To create distance down the centerline he will use especially, a lead front leg side kick, which he then strings either a lead or spinning backfist onto, as well as a stabbing teep to the body. His other strategy to maintain his range, is the use of spinning attacks, which although are not typically high percentage landing moves, are so devastating and fast if they do land, fighters often look to keep their distance and evade Rodriguez by their own choice, rather than try to time around and counter. Essentially, this look from Rodriguez is like trying to jump into a windmill between blade rotations.
That isn’t to say that Max Holloway isn’t also insanely creative. The difference between the two in this department is that Holloway’s creativity stems more so from finding unorthodox ways to land traditional techniques, while Rodriguez shakes up what we believe we know about martial arts techniques altogether. Holloway will use pace, volume and pressure to make his opponents either panic and leave openings or shell up out of frustration and despair. Once this happens, Holloway will land kicks from punching range or long boxing combinations that don’t typically work on engaged fighters. Holloway will step long into almost a full long stance to land his hooks to the body because he gets his opponents to shell up so well, and then angle off and use a reverse side kick from basically inside the pocket.
Rodriguez has an array of techniques that are uniquely his. One of the most interesting, is the inverted crescent kick, but inverted to such a slight degree that it works as a snap front kick to the face. The reason it’s important to make the distinction that there is a slight inverse, is because the reason it lands so flush is because it acts in the opposite way as a question mark kick, feinting the roundhouse angle and then crossing the opposite way up the middle. Likewise with the upper portion of the body, you will see Rodriguez feing a jab and come down the angle with a hammerfist directly into the opening on the neck caused by a traditional boxing ‘slip’.
A Lot can be said about this match up and I can go on for pages and pages but ultimately I think it will come down to this. Range is a prime factor in the success for both men, so if Holloway finds himself stuck outside he may be in trouble and if there is anyone with the skill to rival him and make that happen it could be Rodriguez. However on the flip side, if there is anyone who can negate Rodriguez’s range control to a larger degree than those he’s faced in the past it’s Holloway and I think he will. Holloway’s volume is a massive tool, especially against someone like Rodriguez who typically looks to capitalize on big moments in the fight, that space between moments is where Holloway does all his best work, and the more he does, the less and less opportunities Rodriguez will have to actually be creative. Furthermore, as seen in other fights of Rodriguez, he does give up those moments for the sake of the highlight reel finish, and to bet against Holloway’s chin at this point, would be betting against the odds.
Prediction: Max Holloway by stoppage
Max “Blessed” Holloway is beloved in the MMA community for both his personality and fighting style. Outside of the octagon, Holloway is a kind-hearted and fun-loving man. In the octagon, “Blessed” turns into a different person who is fond of blood and violence. Possibly the best pure boxer in the UFC, Holloway is able to put on a pace that most others cannot match. His output, landing on average 7.2 significant strikes per minute, is amplified by his impressive footwork and head movement. Despite being in several octagon wars, Holloway only absorbs, on average, 4.6 significant strikes per minute. Holloway’s elite boxing, showcased by that meaningful strike differential, is the first prong in his attack. Cardio is prong two. Holloway just keeps moving forward, often hitting his opponent more frequently than he gets hit in return. His famous volume continues to grow throughout a fight; and, recently, as his opponent starts to fade, Holloway has looked even better in the championship rounds. Holloway’s two primary deficiencies, minimal as they may be, are leg kicks and power. Like many boxers, with his weight so heavy on his front leg, checking leg kicks is a challenge for the Hawaiian. Second, Holloway, despite being able to piece up his opponents with unmatched volume, does not have much knockout power. He has not knocked an opponent out since 2018. This means that Holloway will often rely on the judges to decide the fight. With his elite boxing volume, though, he still often wins.
Rodriguez, who hasn’t fought since 2019, is also an impressive striker. Unlike Holloway, who is an elite boxer, Rodriguez is a kickboxer by trade. In fact, because Rodriguez kicks so much, he might be better described as a kicker who also boxes. Rodriguez is able to, expertly, kick his opponent in the blink of an eye from anywhere between their calf to their head. His kicks flash in like lightening and crack like thunder. He often follows a heavy leg kick with a quick boxing combination before he cuts and angle and moves back out of range. This style has led to a positive strike differential of 4.3 landed to 3.1 absorbed. And, unlike Holloway, Rodriguez still has some knockout power in his arsenal. His biggest gape is he can be pressured onto his back foot and turn into more of a counter puncher. When this happens, as it did against Edgar, 3 fights ago, Rodriguez struggles to land with the same consistency and accuracy. He’ll look to be the one moving forward Saturday; but, against Holloway, that is easier said than done.
I think Holloway is going to win this fight but the odds have gotten completely out of hand. Both fighters are extremely skilled on the feet, Holloway has shown a vulnerability to leg kicks (Rodriguez’s speciality), and Holloway is unlikely to put Rodriguez away. Holloway being nearly -700 is simply too large of a price to lay. However, while the gambler in me loves the value of Rodriguez, I still think Holloway is going to win.
Prediction: Holloway by decision
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.