But after a tumultuous period that “El Pantera” insists is firmly in his rearview mirror, Rodriguez said the past 18 months that he spent on the sidelines – first dealing with a rocky relationship with his bosses, and then with injury – gave him a brand new lease on life.
Rodriguez (10-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) meets Chan Sung Jung (14-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in the main event of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 139 card at Pepsi Center in Denver, and it’s hard not to see a refreshed look in his eyes in the days leading up to the contest. He also seems much more at peace in talking with the media, a task he never necessarily seemed too urgent to fulfill in the past.
Rodriguez said that’s no accident.
“I’m one of the guys who never posts stuff on social media,” Rodriguez told reporters, including MMAjunkie, at a media day promoting the event. “I realize that you’ve got to do it. You’ve got to go out there and put stuff for the fans, and you’ve got to do interviews and stuff. It’s not like I hate you guys, but doing interviews sometimes is hard. You ask most fighters, nobody likes to do interviews and stuff, but it’s part fo the game and part of what you have to do. It’s your work. It’s my work to do it, and I actually love to talk to you guys, but sometimes you forget about it.
“I think more than anything, you don’t want to keep on going back to the stuff that you’ve already been talking about for a long time. You just want to move forward, and sometimes interviews and all this other stuff just makes you go back again and, ‘OK, I’ve got to say all this again?’ It’s repetitive, and that’s one of the things, but everything else is perfect. It’s part of the game.”
So if he’s true to his word, expect to see a little more of Rodriguez in the media, as well as engaging social platforms, as well. One thing you shouldn’t expect to change, however, is his fighting style.
Rodriguez garnered attention early in his UFC run because of his flashy style, and while he suffered a disappointing setback in his last outing – which could potentially encourage him to take a more reserved approach – and he’s spent significant time away from the public’s eye – which could see him turn up the volume, whether responsibly or not, in hopes of bringing the spotlight back to him, the featherweight insists it will simply be more of the same on Saturday night.
“There are ups and downs in this career,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just part of the game. My style of fighting is going to be always the same. It’s who I am. If you go back and look into my first fights, you’re going to see the same Yair Rodriguez. It’s just who I am and how I like to fight, how I feel to fight.
“You cannot think out there. If you start thinking something, you won’t do anything. You’ve got to just be able to react and be fluid and just fight – just fight.”
To hear more from Rodriguez, check out the video above.
- After tough stretch against tougher foes, Ashley Yoder looking for breakthrough at UFC Denver
- UFC Fight Night 139 weigh-in results and live video stream (11 a.m. ET)
- The MMA Road Show with John Morgan No. 189 – Denver: Yair Rodriguez, Donald Cerrone, Mike Perry
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: After lengthy layoff, Yair Rodriguez outlines what he's changing – and what never will