Coach expects Alexander Volkanovski to “ragdoll” Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290

By Cole Shelton - June 29, 2023

Joe Lopez, the head coach of Alexander Volkanovski, is confident his pupil will successfully defend his title at UFC 290.

Alexander Volkanovski

In the main event of UFC 290, Volkanovski is returning to the featherweight division to take on Yair Rodriquez. ‘The Great’ had most recently competed at 155lbs, where he lost a close decision to Islam Makhachev for the lightweight belt. Entering UFC 290, Volkanovski is the sizeable betting favorite, and although he has said Rodriguez is the most dangerous opponent he has fought, the Aussie’s coach thinks Volkanovski will utlimately ragdoll Rodriguez.

“100 percent, I don’t think he’s ever met anybody that’s as strong as Alex and I think that always surprises people. If Alex puts hands on him, he’s gonna really ragdoll him around,” Lopez said to The AllStar about Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez. “It’s just getting in there because he’s just likely to throw a knee or an elbow on everything else and we’ve been really working on that clinch game to avoid any damage trying coming in.”

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The only time Yair Rodriguez was rag dolled by an opponent was in his first career UFC loss at the hands of Frankie Edgar. In that fight, Rodriguez was controlled on the ground for over eight minutes and was eventually put away by TKO. Although the Mexican has improved since then, Joe Lopez knows how good Alexander Volkanovski’s grappling is, so he believes his pupil will be able replicate Edgar’s performance.

If Alexander Volkanovski does ragdoll Yair Rodriguez as his coach says, it would be a statement win. The Aussie is undefeated at featherweight in the UFC and in his career overall. ‘The Great’ is hoping that an impressive win over Rodriguez could secure him a rematch against Islam Makhachev. If he doesn’t end up getting the rematch with Makhachev, Volkanovski still has options at 145lbs like Ilia Topuria, who picked up a big win over Josh Emmett last weekend.