UFC interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez had to go through a lot to win the gold.
‘El Pantera’ returned to the octagon over the weekend in the co-main event of UFC 284. Standing opposite the Mexican star was Josh Emmett, who was riding a five-fight winning streak. During that stretch, ‘The Fighting Falmer’ defeated names such as Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige.
However, that winning streak came to a close last Saturday night. Rodriguez had great success with the body kicks, and rocked Emmett several times in the contest. Ultimately, it was a triangle choke in the final moments of round two that sealed the deal. With that submission, Rodriguez was finally UFC champion.
That being said, he had to go through a lot to get there. In an interview with Sports Illustrated after UFC 284, Yair Rodriguez discussed the victory. There, he admitted that he was actually knocked out by Josh Emmett in the first round.
According to the newly crowned champion, he didn’t remember anything until he locked in the triangle. While Rodriguez was operating on autopilot for the majority of the fight, fans likely had no idea.
“Josh Emmett is as tough as they come,” Rodriguez stated in the interview. “He landed a punch in the first round, and I went into automatic mode. I don’t remember much after that. I was just fighting. Somebody told me after the fight that I landed a flying knee. I was like, ‘Did I?’ I just remember the moment when I adjusting the triangle.” (h/t Sports Illustrated)
He continued, “It’s hard to explain. I was expecting that moment. For a long time, I was visualizing that moment. I thought about it so much. But when it happened, I couldn’t believe it. When I saw my team running toward me, I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.”
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