Yair Rodríguez has put the UFC featherweight division on notice

BJ Penn Yair Rodriguez during the UFC Fight Night event at the at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 15, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.

After his destruction of UFC legend BJ Penn at UFC Fight Night 103, Yair Rodríguez has emerged as the next superstar in the UFC.

In his bout against Penn, Yair Rodríguez fought almost the perfect fight. By switching his stance, being unpredictable with kicks, and using distance masterfully to his advantage, Rodríguez became the first person to drop Penn in his long storied career and just the second person to finish the Hawaiian with strikes. While Penn looked completely out of his depth, Rodríguez put on arguably the best performance of his young career.

A Star Has Been Born

Rodríguez, 24, has amassed a record of 10-1 while being 6-0 inside the UFC octagon. After bursting onto the scene in 2014 by winning The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, Rodríguez has cemented his place among the UFC’s young stars to keep an eye out for. With wins over Andre Fili, Alex Caceres, and now BJ Penn, Rodríguez has emerged as the division’s next contender.

Prior to UFC 206, the UFC’s featherweight division was not in good shape. The decision to strip featherweight champion Conor McGregor and subsequently promote interim champion Jose Aldo to undisputed champion had the division lacking clear direction. However, with Max Holloway winning the interim featherweight championship and the likes of Cub Swanson, Frankie Edgar and now Yair Rodríguez, the division is not only back on track but has seemingly become one of the most exciting divisions almost entirely overnight.

As it stands right now, Rodríguez is ranked #10 in the UFC’s featherweight division. However, after his impressive victory against Penn, it is likely to see the Mexican prospect finding himself within the top five of the division. Wherever ranked, there exists a number of intriguing opponents for Rodríguez; it all depends on what the UFC wants to do with their new star.

What’s Next For Yair Rodríguez?

With Max Holloway and Jose Aldo seemingly on an inevitable collision course with one another to unify the UFC featherweight championship, the UFC can now look to the rest of the division to start producing a pecking order of fresh contenders. If the UFC is looking to escalate Yair Rodríguez rising stardom in the UFC, then one particular matchup worth making would be against Cub Swanson.

Fresh off his victory against Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206, Cub Swanson has seemingly returned to form with his sights set on UFC gold. Since losing to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway, Swanson rebounded in a big way in 2016.

Riding a three-fight win streak against Hacran Dias, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Doo Ho Choi, Swanson is looking for a fight that can help propel him into number one contender status. While bringing Yair Rodríguez along slowly could seem like the safe decision, it appears stylistically, the Mexican prospect can hang with almost anyone in the division. A fight between Rodríguez and Swanson would not only produce a rightful #1 contender, but it would almost guarantee a spectacular fight based on the two fighter’s striking pedigrees.

Whatever Rodríguez and the UFC choose to do from here will be something to keep an eye on but one this is for certain and that is featherweight has a new a player in town. Don’t be surprised to see Yair Rodríguez contending for the UFC featherweight championship in 2017.

 

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