Yair Rodriguez (+140) vs Brian Ortega (-170)
Rodriguez: DK: $7.7k | Ortega: DK:$8.5k
Lately, the Fight Night main events have been hot fire like Dylan on Chapelle’s skit. The matchups of guys I would never in a million years want to find myself engaged in fisticuffs with for any reason continues this weekend with Brian Ortega and Yair Rodriguez. This matchup will pit the man who perpetrated one of the greatest KO’s in UFC history against a participant in the greatest round in UFC title fight history.
Yair Rodriguez is the stuntman behind your favorite superhero’s best fight moves. They dress up Yair in green leotards (not a derogatory term for people named Leo or people born in July/August) and glue little ornaments on him like a he’s huge cat toy and record Yair doing wild shit like an X-Games 900 spinning wheel kick or a Guile flash kick. The next thing you know, Spiderman’s on the big screen doing Ong Bak ducking back elbows and knocking out the Green Goblin at the buzzer before a nuclear bomb destroys the world.
Mr. Rodriguez is the King of taking flashy techniques and making them fundamentals, white belt techniques he’s mastered like jabs. He pulled off a Hollywood KO when he landed the aforementioned Ong Bak ducking back elbow at the final buzzer against the Korean Zombie in 2018. Yair was literally a second away from losing a close decision when he caught the Zombie rushing in for a final flurry as time expired. He left the Korean Zombie face down on the mat like he was a fiend trying to snort lines of dried blood off it.
What makes Rodriguez special is his kicks. He’s one of the rare fighters with better kicks than hands but can still dominate a stand-up fight. No one uses kick combinations like Yair. Yair will throw repeated calf kicks by the dozen, alternate left/right round kicks, and sprinkle in some snap kicks and spinning shit. He lets it all simmer on medium/low heat until the opponent’s legs, arms, and body are well done, exhibiting varying shades of purple.
Rodriguez fights naturally out of both stances and likes to attack from the opposite stance of his opponent. This strategy lines up his power leg with the exposed and defensively vulnerable side of the body. His weakness is his hands in close range. But he mitigates this by hiding his hands behind kicks or vice versa. He keeps his hands low and whips long, wide punches and has excellent hand speed. In his last bout against Max Holloway, Yair landed heavy hands when he stayed at a distance but got pieced up when Max got inside and exchanged.
Against Brian Ortega, the game plan will be the same; keep the fight standing and stay on the outside. Yair needs space to execute his arsenal of strikes, and he’ll have to keep the fight at kickboxing range and not allow Ortega to get into boxing range.
For his career, Yair is 13-3 with four TKO/KO’s and three submissions. Although he’s been in the UFC since 2014 he’s only fought eleven times and has an 8-2-1 record. But Yair also fought on the Ultimate Fighter: Latin America and won the whole thing.
Once a troubled youth, Brian Ortega used Jiu-Jitsu as a conduit to turn his life around. He found an outlet for his aggression and anger at the Gracie University under head instructor Rener Gracie. The two quickly formed a dynamic duo whose cohesiveness is only rivaled by the modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, myself and Mary Jane. Under Gracie’s tutelage, Ortega developed a treacherous guard and specializes in triangle and guillotine chokes.
Ortega uses guillotines as a multifaceted attack. From the clinch, he’ll climb up an opponent after snatching down the head, and it’s a wrap. He uses the guillotine to stuff takedowns, from the guard to finish or force scrambles, and he can use it to land knees when standing. But although Ortega is a grappling wizard, he lacks traditional takedowns and is a world-class grappler who has fallen in love with his striking.
Round three. IYKYK. Ortega was the closest anyone has come to beating Alexander Volkanovski in twenty-two straight Volkanovski fights. Hyperbole in my back pocket; it may have been the greatest round ever. Ever-ever? Ever-ever. Volkanovski put on a technical clinic, out landing Ortega with extended combinations until about halfway through the third round. Ortega knocked down Volkanovski and quickly snatched up his neck in a tight guillotine. When Volkanovski started flutter kicking, trying to free his legs to escape, I thought it was a wrap. Wrap it up, B. I tapped in my living room and dropped Mary Jane. She still won’t let me forget it and points out the burn mark on the carpet every time she comes over.
But Volkanovski escaped, only to be caught in a D’arce choke and then a triangle. But Volkanovski escaped again and again. And the rest is sixth period Mrs. Bob’s class, history.
Ortega has always been one of the most dangerous submission threats in the featherweight division, but since his debut in 2014, Ortega’s striking has consistently gotten better with new wrinkles added every fight. Ortega uses both stances in different ways; he uses orthodox to attack and southpaw to counter with his lead hook and jab. T-City has tight, traditional boxing but in recent fights began emphasizing standing elbows. He can counter with spinning elbows and punctuate hand combinations after working his way inside.
But Ortega has major holes in his stand-up. Ortega doesn’t throw many combinations and relies on the big play as the main source of his offense. There’s usually a tide-turning knockdown at some point during an Ortega fight. The key of Ortega will be making this an ugly firefight, not only in the pocket, but also in the clinch, in the phone booth, if you will. If Ortega can control Yair against the cage, he can threaten with chokes and use guillotine attempts to get the fight to the mat.
Brian Ortega is 15-2-1 for his career and 7-2-1 in the UFC, with his lone losses coming to Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski, two legends. He finished six of his seven UFC dubs, and although Yair has the more dangerous strikes, I think Ortega is the bigger threat to finish the fight. Ortega can catch you on the feet and beat you on mat and can do both in a blink.
Because he’s a dual-threat, Ortega will be stepping in as the (-170) favorite, which means you’ll have to bust out the Piso Mojado signs for Yair because he’ll be dripping with value. They say MMA math never adds up, but I often disagree. Both fought Max Holloway and were very competitive, but Yair caused Max more problems. And Yair fought Max immediately after Max put on a MasterClass for the ages against Calvin Kattar. As I write this, the odds for a finish or the fight going the distance are nearly even. I think both will be hard to finish, and a decision is likely, but an Ortega finish is a good look.
Oh yes, we’re streaking again. The main event WINNING streak now sits at two, and I’m over here doing the Macarena, feeling myself. Brian Ortega via D’arce choke, round four. On wax.
Winner: Brian Ortega | Method: D’arce Choke Rd.4