In an organisation full of controversy, the shock value of new stories coming out the UFC is fairly low nowadays, but this isn’t necessarily the case when we learned the latest bit of gossip. It came in the form of rising featherweight star Yair Rodriguez, who was cut from the UFC late last night (May 10th).
Ever since winning The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America tournament, “El Pantera” is (was?) considered as one of the rising stars of the featherweight division, boasting a record of 11-2 in professional combat, 6-1 in the UFC. He has passed serious tests since joining the organisation, which was capped by a win over former lightweight/welterweight champion and hall of famer BJ Penn in January of 2017.
Rodriguez is known for his flashy fighting style and his spinning attacks, therefore he does bring in a decent fanbase; and with the added extra of being Mexican, he brings in a whole country of supporters for him and the UFC; but it has been heard from Dana White that Rodriguez will be dropped and can “take his act elsewhere” because the Mexican has turned down fights against Ricardo Lamas and Zabit Magomedsharipov on the UFC 227 fight card (coupled with the fact that he is coming off a loss to Frankie Edgar at UFC 211.
White has never been one for following procedure or precedence, this we know. But to cut someone for turning down a fight (which is his right as a fighter) is very controversial to say the least, especially giving that he is a known name by most MMA fans and is a legitimate prospect in his division.
With the exact reason behind the fights being turned down unknown, it’s hard to say whether or not this new development is fair. Rodriguez is yet to speak out about it but once he does, some light should be shed on the matter. All we know is, the highly anticipated fight between him and Magomedsharipov (which incidentally was confirmed, which we now know to be false as Rodriguez never agreed to the fight) is now not happening, which is a shame for the Russian as he himself has a point to prove and a stiff test against “El Pantera” was his chance to do exactly that.
Rodriguez will not be out of the public eye altogether though, as it remains highly likely that another MMA promotion will sign him, with options open to the Mexican such as Bellator MMA and Strikeforce. This probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for Rodriguez; with his skill in fighting ever increasing, it’s possible for him to become a star in one of these organisations, which could open up multiple other paths (including a re-entry into the UFC).