High-flying prospect Yair Rodriguez has had quite the tumultuous trip to reach Saturday night's main event in Denver, Colorado, against Chan Sung Jung, better known as "The Korean Zombie." Rodriguez (11-2) enters the bout 18 months since his last fight (a second-round TKO loss to Frankie Edgar whom he is replacing because of an injury to Edgar) and a host of controversy to go along with it.
To sum up: Rodriguez was "cut" by UFC after refusing to take fights at UFC 227 in August after rumors surfaced of "El Pantera" taking on Zabit Magomedsharipov at the event in Los Angeles. Then, after an agreement was reached for Rodriguez and Magomedshairpov to fight on the card, Rodriguez suffered an injury and was unable to compete.
Can't get enough UFC? Subscribe to our podcast In This Corner with Brian Campbell where we break down everything you need to know in the Octagon.
Now, Rodriguez is hoping to get back to his roots when he takes on Jung in a main event spot.
"There are ups and downs in this career," Rodriguez said during media day via MMAJunkie. "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."
Meanwhile, the co-main event features a pair of guys who just enjoy fighting in Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and "Platinum" Mike Perry. Both guys are looking to move up the welterweight rankings with a win, though Perry may be closer to an elusive title shot than Cerrone.
Plus, Germaine de Randamie and Raquel Pennington return to the Octagon in a main card bout. De Randamie has been out of action since winning the inaugural women's featherweight title over Holly Holm in February 2017 while Pennington is coming off a tough loss to champion Amanda Nunes.
Here's the fight card with the latest odds from Bovada.
Chan Sung Jung -125
Yair Rodriguez -105
Mike Perry -210
Donald Cerrone +170
Germain de Randamie -190
Raquel Pennington +155
Beneil Dariush -155
Thiago Moises +125
Maycee Barber -450
Hannah Cifers +325
|Luis Pena -175||Michael Trizano +145||Lightweight|
Korean Zombie vs. Rodriguez: I am a firm believer in the talent of Rodriguez. I still think he has the opportunity to turn the featherweight division on its head if he's able to string together a few wins and grow his game for a showdown with either Brian Ortega or Max Holloway down the line. While Korean Zombie is still a great fighter in his own right and coming off a Performance of the Night award in his win over Dennis Bermudez in February 2017, facing somebody with the speed and unorthodox nature of Rodriguez presents too many challenges in this fight. Rodriguez by unanimous decision.
Cerrone vs. Perry: For as much respect as Cerrone gets for his "let's just fight" attitude, the results tell a different story every time. "Cowboy" is simply not the cowboy of old anymore, losing four of his last five fights with the lone win coming against one of his close friends in Yancy Medeiros. Perry, meanwhile, seemed to find something in his last fight against Paul Felder after losing consecutive decisions to Max Griffin and Santiago Ponzinibbio. Look for Perry to force the action and find a home for that right hook on Cerrone's chin. Perry via second-round TKO.