yair rodriguez zuffa llc

Longtime featherweight contenders Brian Ortega and Yair Rodríguez return this weekend to a home crowd at UFC Mexico City.

The two had already fought in a Fight Night main event back in 2022. However, the bout was unfortunately cut short by a sudden shoulder injury that Ortega suffered after timing a phenomenal hip toss toward the end in the first round.

Rodríguez went home with the win and would later go on to win the interim title against perennial contender Josh Emmett before coming up short in his unification bout against former featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski.

Regardless, the two are set for a rematch in a five-round co-main that’s sure to be a wild scrap between two polarizing specialists of the highest caliber.

Betting Odds

Despite winning the first bout and being much more active, Yair Rodríguez only comes into this as a slight betting favorite.

  • Yair Rodríguez: +140 at BetUS
  • Brian Ortega: +120 at BetUS

Fight Breakdown

Although these men are both specialists in their own right, they’re extremely well-rounded in all facets of the game. While Rodríguez is nothing short of a striking genius on the feet, often unleashing a barrage of wildly unorthodox strikes and angles on his opponents, he has some phenomenal scrambles on the ground and is absurdly scrappy off his back.

He has slick submission setups that were noticeable in his timeless performance against Josh Emmett and even in the short runtime of the first Ortega bout. He prefers to stay on the feet but he’s never afraid to make the most of a dominant position, often using top control to wear his opponents out and set up some lethal ground-and-pound.

The best word to describe Ortega since coming into the UFC would be “improvement.” The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt came in as a textbook ground fighter, although he always had some incredible, if unassuming, power in his hands and feet.

His natural athleticism allowed him to cinch some absurd submissions and land incredible knockouts in the early goings of his career until his striking was exposed by then-longstanding-champion Max Holloway.

Since that loss, Ortega has returned only looking sharper, putting a clinic on featherweight legend Chan Sung Jung and giving Alexander Volkanovski what was arguably his toughest test as a champion.

His striking has become much more conservative and polished, adopting a “pitter-patter” style that allows him to go harder for longer periods of time. Much of this was seen in the first Rodriguez bout, with Ortega using short, well-timed strikes to back Yair against the cage and set up his takedowns.

Likewise, however, Rodríguez also got some incredible work in during their first bout. He did a great job of setting up his straight right hand and did an even better job of stepping off into unorthodox angles at the end of exchanges to land a variety of kicks to the legs and head.


Overall, I think their first fight is going to be the best way to gauge how it goes on Saturday. Although he got injured early on in the bout, Ortega was keeping it very competitive, shutting Rodríguez down by pushing him against the cage, landing short, but impactful, knees to the legs and body, and even securing a takedown into side control before getting injured.

Conversely, Rodríguez was doing a phenomenal job of setting up his offense, throwing a wide array of different strikes from different angles in just four minutes. The match was looking to be extremely competitive, and it likely would have been decided by what would happen first: Rodríguez setting up and landing a fight-changing strike, or Ortega wearing him out to set up a submission or cruise to a decision.

I think I’m going to go with Yair, simply because of his activity and unorthodoxy. He was putting on a great show in the first bout and even managed to give Ortega some trouble off of his back once the fight hit the canvas. His takedown defense has always been stellar and his timing is devastating, so I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him land a knee or similar strike as Ortega shoots.

Even then, however, Ortega is known for his resilience and ability to weather storms. His ground game is nothing short of exceptional, with submissions that can come from seemingly nowhere. Regardless, it’s likely the most fascinating matchup on the card, with two of the greatest specialists in the sport meeting in their athletic primes, returning to a wildly passionate home crowd that’s been long overdue for some MMA.

Pick: Yair Rodriguez to Win (-140 at BetUS)

Lines to Watch: Rodriguez via KO/TKO/DQ (+180) or Ortega via Submission (+300) or Ortega via Decision (+650)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *