UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs. Rodriguez Preview

A clash in the featherweight division will headline the UFC Vegas 42 card this Saturday night as Max Holloway takes on Yair Rodríguez in the main event. A heavyweight battle will serve as the co-main event when Ben Rothwell steps in to take on Marcos Rogério de Lima.

“Blessed” Max Holloway didn’t really need to take this fight, but the fact that he has decided to take this against a dangerous top prospect like Rodríguez is a testament to him as a fighter. Yair has nothing to lose but everything to gain in this main event slot, the Mexican standout hasn’t been all that active in recent times, amassing a 2-0 record since 2018. The first of those wins was a buzzer beater knockout win over Chan Sung Jung, fans will remember the back elbow that connected with the Korean Zombie for many years to come. That win came in 2018 and we did not see the Mexican stand up specialist again for over a year. October 2019 is the last time we have had the chance to see Yair and that was against Jeremy Stephens. Rodríguez picked up the unanimous decision that night, now he faces a serious jump up in competition with the former featherweight champion being his next challenger.

Holloway got over his double set of defeats by now champion Alex Volkanovski by going in and putting in a clinic in his fight with Calvin Katter. Holloway stood toe-to-toe with Katter, who is known for his boxing, and beat him from pillar to post enroute to winning a unanimous decision. The victory had Holloway exclaiming the he is ‘the best boxer in the UFC’ and it was clear that serious work had been done in the gym to improve the Hawaiian’s striking. Holloway will put his striking credentials to the test once more against of the most dynamic strikers in all of Mixed Martial Arts.

Yair Rodríguez can land shots that most fighters can only dream about. From reverse elbows to flying knee KO’s, Yair has racked up quite an impressive highlight reel. If you allow the Mexican to take a foothold of a fight, he is very hard man to beat. What Holloway will need to do is swarm his Mexican rival and try and strike with him in boxing range. You can not allow Rodríguez to fight his fight at his range. If you are Holloway it would not be wise to exchange on the feet from the outside as you will be left open to receive a wide range of kicking strikes, something that Yair excels in. I see this as been a range battle and both fighters will want to fight on the front foot but only one will have the game plan in place to do so.

Holloway is by far the better fighter of the two, on the feet, on the mat, it really doesn’t matter. This fight will be interesting right up until Holloway finds the range he wants to work at. Yair is always dangerous but he faces an elite level for the first time since he was finished by Frankie Edgar in the second round of their 2017 fight. The pressure will be on Yair to perform. The talk coming from Holloway is not about another shot at the title but in fact about a potential rematch with an old foe in Conor McGregor. Only a win will help his chance in getting this fight so the pressure will be there for Max too. At 29, I’m all for Holloway shooting for the McGregor rematch, that will be a huge payday for the former champ who is still young enough to move back down and challenge for the title again win or lose against McGregor. A win for Yair is this contest would only been seen as a huge upset, stranger things have happened once the octagon door closes in the past, I’m looking forward to seeing to finding out how this fight unfolds.

Ben Rothwell will be looking to build on the success of his win over Chris Barnett when he makes the walk to take on Marcos Rogério de Lima in the heavyweight division. de Lima, who fights out of Brazil, also was victorious in his last encounter which was a unanimous decision win over Maurice Greene. Both 265-pound fighters will be keen to keep their winning streaks alive.

A rare women’s featherweight contest will take place on the main card. Former title challenger Felicia Spencer will go up against Leah Letson who picked up a recent win over Julija Stoliarenko, Spencer has lost her last two fights against Amanda Nunes and Norma Dumont and will be eager to get back into the win column.

Miguel Baeza and Khos Williams have been moved from the prelims section of the card up to the main card after the fallout of the Roman Dolidze/Kyle Daukaus fight. Baeza is coming off the first loss of his career after losing to Santiago Ponzinibbio earlier this year. His heavy hitting opponent Khaos Williams picked up a win on the scorecards in his last trip to the cage where he got one over Matt Semelsberger. Twitter will be full of dick jokes as Song Yadong opens up the main card with Julio Arce. Yadong got the biggest win of his UFC tenure as he picked up a split decision win over Casey Kenney in his last outing, Arce also got his hand raised in his last encounter when he knocked out Andre Ewell in the second round.

Thiago Moisés goes to battle with Joel Álvarez in the lightweight division. Both will headline the prelims section of the card, Moisés is looking to change his fortunes after a defeat by Islam Makhachev last July. Álvarez, who represent Spain, is looking to build on his three-fight win streak which includes a win over our own Joe Duffy. Cynthia Calvillo has stepped in at short notice to take on Andrea Lee after Jessica Eye was forced to withdraw with an illness. That fight takes place in the women’s flyweight division.

Sean Woodson picked up a solid win over Youssef Zalal last time out,he will be looking to make it two on the bounce when he squares off against Collin Anglin. After a defeat on his UFC debut, Anglin is still in search of his first win inside the octagon. Another women’s flyweight contest is set to go down on the prelims as Cortney Casey and Liana Jojua are set to throw down. Both athletes are coming off a loss which should make this fight all the more interesting.

We have not seen Marc Diakiese since his defeat by Rafael Fiziev in mid 2020. The UK standout will look to get his career back on track as he takes on Brazilian veteran Rafael Alves in the 155-pound division. Kennedy Nzechukwu brings in a three-fight win streak into his light-heavyweight clash with Da Un Jung. The Nigerian has only one defeat to his name, a triangle choke loss to Paul Craig, will be looking to be the first man to defeat Jung inside the octagon. The South Korean has won three and drawn one in his four fight UFC stint so far, Jung carries big power with 10 of his wins coming by knockout.

Main Card (BT Sports / ESPN+, 1pm ET)

Featherweight: Max Holloway (26-6) vs. Yair Rodríguez (13-2)

Heavyweight: Ben Rothwell (39-13) vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima (18-7-1)

Welterweight: Miguel Baeza (10-1) vs. Khaos Williams (12-2)

Women’s Featherweight: Felicia Spencer (8-3) vs. Leah Letson (5-1)

Bantamweight: Song Yadong (17-5-1) vs. Julio Arce (17-4)

Preliminary Card (BT Sports / ESPN+, 4pm ET)

Lightweight: Thiago Moisés (15-5) vs. Joel Álvarez (18-2)

Women’s Flyweight: Cynthia Calvillo (9-3-1) vs. Andrea Lee (12-5)

Featherweight: Sean Woodson (8-1) vs. Collin Anglin (8-2)

Women’s Flyweight: Cortney Casey (9-9) vs. Liana Jojua (8-4)

Lightweight: Marc Diakiese (14-4) vs. Rafael Alves (19-10)

Light Heavyweight:
Kennedy Nzechukwu (9-1) vs. Da Un Jung (14-2-1)

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.