When the UFC made the shocking decision to cut Yair Rodriguez earlier this month, the expectation was that he would find another home quite quickly — potentially with South American MMA powerhouse Combate Americas.
Apparently, Combate Americas was initially interested in signing Rodriguez, and quickly offered him a deal that is said to be more lucrative than his last in the UFC. According to MMAMania, however, the promotion has since rescinded its offer.
“We wish Yair the best of luck in his career,” Combate Americas said of their dealings with Rodriguez.
The reasons for Rodriguez’s UFC release vary depending on who you ask. According to UFC President Dana White, Rodriguez turned down bouts with both Ricardo Lamas and Zabit Magomedsharipov — which is apparently a violation of an unofficial UFC policy, per Chael Sonnen. Rodriguez’s version of the story, meanwhile, is much less straightforward.
“They said Ricardo Lamas, then I said yes to Ricardo Lamas,” Rodriguez said on a recent episode of The MMA Hour. “I accepted to fight Ricardo Lamas, but then I later learned that he didn’t take the fight with me. He decided to fight (Mirsad) Bektic instead. Then, during that process, the Zabit fight was causing a lot of hype on social media. … I was like, alright, this is going to be great. I started looking at the big potential for this fight. And it was kind of my fault that I — like a week after Lamas declined the fight, Sean Shelby called me again and he said, ‘Hey, the Lamas fight is still back open. It’s back open for you to fight.’ And after I was asking for any top-10 [opponent] and they didn’t want to give it to me, and then Lamas took Bektic instead of me, I was kind of disappointed. Just kind of disappointed, I’ll say that.
“I started looking at this other fight with Zabit. It was making a lot of sense for me because of the stylistic matchup and stuff. We saw big potential of renegotiating my contract. There was a negotiation that if they wanted me to fight him in LA (at UFC 227), which, I said I’ll fight him in LA, of course, but [only] if you pay me more, because I had saying for the last year that I wanted to fight a top 10 [opponent]. I’m not picking my opponents. I’m just saying I deserve a top 10. Anyone. I actually asked for ‘Korean Zombie’ as well, but they told me he wasn’t ready, even though he posted some stuff on Twitter saying that he wanted to fight Frankie.
“I was like, okay, I’ll fight Zabit if you give me more money in LA, because I understand how big of an event it is, and they said no,” Rodriguez added. “I was like, okay, if you don’t want to give me more money to fight him in LA, why don’t you give [the fight] to me in Russia, and there’s no need to do any negotiation for that. I want him in Russia. Why? Because he was calling me out. I’m the guy who, I never say much, I just act. I don’t have to be talking about this on my social media.
“They didn’t even want to give it to me in Russia. Then I was like, okay, you don’t want to give me more money to fight him in LA, you don’t want to give me a top-10 [opponent]. Now I’m looking — now I see how the things are going.”
The good news for Yair Rodriguez and his fans, of course, is that even with the UFC and Combate Americas off the table, there are still dozens of interesting options for the next chapter of his promising career — such as Bellator, Rizin, ONE Championship, or The Professional Fighters League.
Where do you think Yair Rodriguez will end up?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/25/2018.