Saturday night, rising UFC light heavyweight Mike Rodriguez is back.
Rodriguez (10-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) will face Dana White’s Contender Series veteran John Allan (13-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) at UFC on ESPN+ 13 at Golden1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. The card will stream live on ESPN+.
Originally scheduled to face UFC veteran Gian Villante, Rodriguez will now take on short-notice injury replacement Allan. Despite the last-second switch of opponents, Rodriguez isn’t fazed.
“I’m just going in there with same mindset, regardless,” Rodriguez said. “He was just another fighter. My whole career I’ve been having swap-outs, so I’m kind of used to it. They’ve gotten me adapted and ready for whatever could possibly happen. It’s not a big deal.”
While he’s had 13 professional MMA fights, Rodriguez said he feels like his biggest challenge is gaining valuable, in-cage experience – and who can blame him? Nine of the Bostonian’s pro fights have ended inside the first round.
“The one thing I always want is experience to fight at a high level,” Rodriguez said. “I felt like I got to that spot in my last fight (against Adam Milstead). But yeah, just the experience is what I wanted to take from that amongst other small things I wanted to get better at. Hopefully after this fight, it won’t be another eight months (until) you guys see me again.”
In his most recent outing in December 2018, Rodriguez defeated Milstead by first-round stoppage, but was unable to get back into the cage quickly after that. As brief as the fight was, Rodriguez suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on the shelf.
“I tweaked my shoulder a little bit in that Milstead fight,” Rodriguez said. “I hit him the two to the body and my shoulder kind of tweaked a little bit.”
With the UFC’s return to his native city of Boston looming, the stakes are high Saturday for Rodriguez. He hopes to pick up the victory and walk away unscathed, so there’s no denying him a fight at TD Garden in October.
“That’d be sick,” Rodriguez said. “I’d like it at the Garden. I’d love to fight there.”
The game plan for Rodriguez on Saturday, he said, is to stay smart, execute and stick to his plan. The 30-year-old light heavyweight hopes to reacquaint himself with any fans who may have forgotten him in his absence.
“I just want to let people know, fans know, I’m still here,” Rodriguez said. “Just because I haven’t been there in a little bit. That doesn’t mean I’ve gone anywhere. I’m still here and I’m still trying to get in the mix.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: UFC on ESPN+ 13: Mike Rodriguez hopes to defeat John Allan, secure spot on UFC Boston in October