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Max Holloway vs. Yair Rodríguez
This fight is a bit of a head-scratcher to me, if I am being honest. There is nothing here that indicates Rodríguez even deserves the main event spot here, never mind facing Max Holloway. The only thing I can possibly think of is that they are really trying to keep Holloway active right now. The fight just really makes no sense to me at all. Something about Rodríguez just rubs me the wrong way.
Is he a talented kid? Without a shadow of a doubt. But he is too unreliable, and to be honest the level of competition he has faced looks very good name-wise, but he seems to have fought them at the right time. Dan Hooker in 2015, Alex Caceres by split aren’t huge wins. An aging BJ Penn. He then got washed by Frankie Edger. If you look at his last three fights, he beat Korean Zombie in a fight he was losing by a last-second KO with a freaky up-elbow shot, he had a no-contest due to an eye poke against Jeremy Stephens, and then he beat Stephens by decision in the rematch. So has he beaten some good names? Yes. But I think it is fair to say he fought all of them at a time that was suboptimal for them.
With a record of 13-2, Rodríguez has a very Matrix style to his game. With a black belt in taekwondo, he brings a very tricky way about his style into the cage, and if you sleep on the job, it is very easy to get caught up in his web (just ask the Korean Zombie). With that said, it still doesn’t warrant him getting the spot here.
On inactivity alone, the matchmaking doesn’t make all that much sense. He hasn’t fought since 2019, and now he jumps right back into the main event spot? I know the UFC is high on this kid and I know he has talent, but there are levels to this, and Holloway is just a completely different Animal. With 4 KOs and 3 submissions, it is clear Rodríguez does most of his work with the decision of the judges. It shows a good work rate and the obvious ability to stretch the fight long. The problem with that is he is fighting Max Holloway.
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There isn’t much that Rodríguez can throw at Holloway that he hasn’t already seen. Has Holloway slowed down a bit? Well to be honest, at one time I really thought he was slowing down a bit, but now I am not too certain, considering how good he has looked. With a record of 22-6, Holloway has 10 KOs and 2 submissions to his credit. In his 6 losses, he was only stopped one time by way of submission.
I get that he lost three out of his last five, but who is he losing to? Alexander Volkanovski twice and Dustin Poirier one time. One by split decision, two unanimous. So it’s not like he went out there and got starched either. He just fought the top of the heap, and the cards fell a few short for him on that night. That said, there is a heavy argument to be made that Holloway won their last meeting.
Holloway is a rhythm fighter. He fights off tempo, momentum and chaining his strikes together. The key to giving him issues is being in his face for 25 minutes. You can’t allow Holloway to get comfortable in there, so you need to push forward and make him uncomfortable in there. If you follow him around in there, look for your own space to work, and pick and prod at him, Holloway is going to win that game all day on sheer volume alone. If you look at their striking differential alone, Holloway is landing around 7 strikes per minute to around 4 for Rodríguez. That right there just tells you that if you are going to stand in front of Holloway or give him the dance to lead, he is going to chew you up and spit you out.
One path Rodríguez may have is grappling, but even then, Holloway has a very good TDD that hovers around 85% and Rodríguez is landing takedowns at less than a 30% clip. If he does manage to get things to the ground then you can expect him to roll and look for legs or whatever he can latch onto, but I just don’t see this being very plausible. So that leaves me with a situation where Yair is going to have to catch him with something, and although he does have that style for something sneaky to slip in, I just don’t see Max falling asleep behind the wheel in this one.
The Pick: Max Holloway Via Late KO/TKO
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Max Holloway ($9,500)
100+ Points: 5 of 10
Current Market Value: 5 of 10
Predicted Win Percentage: 80%
There really isn’t too much to say here. There are levels to this game and my question is not if Holloway wins, but how. In a five-round fight, I think Holloway has the upside to finish this inside the horn with plenty of volume to cover. You will have a lot of company, but all signs pointing to him being in the optimal.
Yair Rodríguez ($6,700)
100+ Points: 3 of 10
Current Market Value: 6 of 10
Predicted Win Percentage 20%
Rodríguez will really need to pull a rabbit out of a hat here. Stranger things have happened, but the chances are sitting around 20% and that is being very nice about it.
How Lab is Betting
Holloway by KO/TKO, +140, FanDuel Sportsbook