Tag Archives: Max Holloway

Who will be a male UFC champion at the end of 2022?

The UFC returns to title fights this weekend at UFC 270 when the heavyweights and flyweight strap is on the line.

Both of those belts changed hands in 2021, as Francis Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 and Brandon Moreno submitted Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 263.

We also saw a new bantamweight, lightweight and light heavyweight champion crowned during the year, so how will 2022 pan out? Lets take a look.



Flyweight (125lbs) – Askar Askarov

Flyweight is one of the better divisions in the UFC right now and I think we’ll once again see a new champion crowned at some point in 2022.

Askar Askarov has been undefeated throughout his career with a 14-0-1 record, with the only draw coming in his UFC debut against… Brandon Moreno. Askarov will get his title shot by the end of the year, and his wrestling is too good for anyone to be able to navigate past him so I think he holds the belt come 2023.

Bantamweight (135lbs) – Petr Yan

The only reason Yan isn’t the champion right now is because he got over excited and threw a knee to a downed Aljamain Sterling at UFC 259. He was winning the first fight quite comfortably at the time, so the fight was re-made for later in the year.

Sterling was forced to withdraw and it’s now set for UFC 273 in April, which means Yan will head into the summer as champ. He’ll likely defend the strap at the end of the year against TJ Dillashaw in a brilliant fight, but I think he edges that and takes a huge boost in credibility this year.

Featherweight (145lbs) – Max Holloway

What a division, and what a title fight that awaits us later this year.

Alexander Volkanovski defended the belt successfully in 2021 with a dominant win over Brian Ortega at UFC 266 and was set to fight Max Holloway at UFC 272 until the Hawaiian got injured and saw it get cancelled.

If Volk can see off the Korean Zombie at UFC 273 now in the new bout, he will face off against Holloway at some point in 2022 and I think ‘Blessed’ finally gets his win over the Aussie to reclaim the title.

Lightweight (155lbs) – Islam Makhachev

Arguably the most exciting division in the company right now when it comes to the title picture, I’m predicting yet another new champion at lightweight.

Charles Oliveira claimed the crown at UFC 262 when he beat Michael Chandler, then defended it successfully when he submitted Dustin Poirier at UFC 269. He’ll now fight Justin Gaethje at some point in 2022, and the winner will fight the winner of Beneil Dariush vs Islam Makhachev at UFC Vegas 49 in February.

I think Makhachev gets the victory there, then gets the victory in the title fight too to fulfil Khabib Nurmagomedov’s prophecy that he will become champion and rule over the division for a long time to come.

Kamaru Usman of Nigeria reacts after his victory over Gilbert Burns of Brazil in their UFC welterweight championship fight during the UFC 258 event...

Welterweight (170lbs) – Kamaru Usman

The best in the world right now pound-for-pound, and I don’t see that changing in 2022.

Usman went 3-0 in 2021 with wins over Gilbert Burns at UFC 258, Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 and Colby Covington at UFC 268 and is now not expected to return to the cage until the summer.

That means one or two fights at most this year, with Leon Edwards certainly one of them, and I don’t see him losing to anyone so soon so I think he holds onto the belt yet again.

Middleweight (185lbs) – Israel Adesanya

The best middleweight in the world and one of the best of all-time, Israel Adesanya will be the 185-pound champion when we enter 2023.

His biggest test will come in February when he faces Robert Whittaker in a rematch at UFC 271, which I think he’ll win again. With that said though, a loss will almost certainly result in a rematch later in the year with their personal series set at 1-1 and he’d then reclaim the belt there.

Either way, ‘The Last Stylebender’ will be the champ when 2022 closes.

Light Heavyweight (205lbs) – Jiri Prochazka

This division isn’t particularly stacked at the top end but one thing it does have is a pathway for the title picture.

Glover Teixeira dethroned Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267 to finally claim the strap, but it feels short-lived because he’s due to take on the killing machine that is Jiri Prochazka next and that means he probably gets violently finished.

Aleksandar Rakic and Magomed Ankalaev are likely to find themselves in contention too by the end of the year, but stylistically none of them suit a fight with ‘Denisa’ and he holds the throne until 2023.

Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic poses on the scale during the UFC 267 official weigh-in at Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island on October 29, 2021 in...

Heavyweight (265lbs) – Ciryl Gane

The big boys are in the best shape they’ve been in, maybe ever, in the UFC right now and it’s created arguably an amazing year in the division in 2022.

Ciryl Gane will take on Francis Ngannou this weekend and a fight with Jon Jones seemingly awaits the winner. Stipe Miocic is likely to return at some point this year too and head for the title once again.

With Miocic back as well as Jones and Ngannou’s contract situations there are plenty of routes to the title this year, but ultimately they all end with ‘Bon Gamin’ as the heavyweight champion of the world heading into 2023.

Max Holloway forced to withdraw from UFC 272 just days after announcement

Max Holloway has been forced to withdraw from his UFC 272 main event fight against Alexander Volkanovski just days after it was announced.

The Hawaiian featherweight was due to take on the champion in a trilogy bout after going 2-0 in 2021 with dominant wins over Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7 and Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42.

However it has now been announced that Holloway has re-aggravated a previous injury and been forced to withdraw from the bout.



While it’s unclear what the injury is to Holloway, it’s clearly severe enough with the fight being scheduled for March 5th and him having to withdraw this early.

According to Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting, the UFC are looking into ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung-Jung to step into the slot and challenge Volkanovski for the title in March.

Jung bounced back from a decision loss against Brian Ortega at UFC Fight Island 6 in October 2020 by beating up Dan Ige at UFC Vegas 29 and earning a dominant decision win.

It would be the second title shot of his career, after previously losing to Jose Aldo at UFC 163 when he dislocated his shoulder and got TKO’d by the legendary Brazilian.

Another name that has been thrown into the hat is former flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo, who has been calling out the Australian champ for several months now.

Cejudo took to Twitter to shoot his shot at stepping into the fight, telling Dana White to call him while posting a mock poster of a fight between the two.

UFC 272 is due to take place on March 5th 2022 live from Las Vegas, Nevada.

The featherweight championship fight is expected to headline the card, while a bantamweight title fight rematch between champion Aljamain Sterling and interim champ Petr Yan will be the co-main event.

Two title fights announced to headline UFC 272

The UFC has announced a double dose of title fights for UFC 272 in March to headline the event in Las Vegas.

Alexander Volkanovski will defend his featherweight championship for a third time when he takes on Max Holloway in their trilogy bout in the main event, in a highly anticipated 145-pound bout.

The co-main event will see the long awaited rematch between bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling as he takes on interim champ Petr Yan after their first bout in March 2021 at UFC 259.



The featherweight title fight will pit the two best 145-pounders in the world against each other for a third time in a little over two years.

Volkanovski won their first encounter via unanimous decision, using his wrestling to nullify Holloway’s excellent striking and claim a deserved victory. Their rematch at UFC 251 saw a much closer fight, with Volkanovski controversially being rewarded the split decision victory.

He has since defeated Brian Ortega via decision at UFC 266 after one of the best rounds of the year during their five-round main event. Holloway on the other hand has bounced back with two sensational performances against Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7 and Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42 to earn another title shot.

Opponents Alexander Volkanovski of Australia and Max Holloway face off prior to their UFC featherweight championship fight during the UFC 251 event...

The co-main will see a highly anticipated rematch between champion Sterling and Yan, after the controversial ending to their bout at UFC 259.

Yan was comfortably winning the fight, before inexplicably landing an illegal knee to the head of Sterling which rendered him unable to continue. ‘Funkmaster’ was crowned the new champion via disqualification, the first instance of a title changing hands via DQ in the companies history.

They were supposed to meet against at UFC 267 in November, but Sterling wasn’t medically cleared following neck surgery and Yan instead fought Cory Sandhagen for the interim title.

Opponents Petr Yan of Russia and Aljamain Sterling face off prior to their UFC bantamweight championship fight during the UFC 259 event at UFC APEX...

In one of the fights of the year, Yan was able to come through with an excellent performance and claim the title and setup a rematch with his nemesis.

The card will take place on March 5th 2022 in Las Vegas. The fights were first reported by Brett Okamoto of ESPN following confirmation from UFC president Dana White.

Tap Ins & Tap Outs Awards 2021 – Fight of the Year

An amazing year of fights has come to an end and that means it’s time to hand out the annual awards for the fight game.

After 509 fights in 2021 after the global pandemic was worked around, the UFC produced some amazing fights with incredible moments throughout the year. But which were the best? Who was the best?

For our second annual end of year awards, we’ll be handing out the honours for each of the following categories:



FIGHT OF THE YEAR

3. Petr Yan vs Cory Sandhagen (UFC 267, October 2021)

A fight that was thrown together at short notice for the interim bantamweight championship back in October served up a thriller in Abu Dhabi.

Yan and Sandhagen went head-to-head in a bout that saw each man have their moments, but ultimately it was the Russian fighter who saw gold wrapped around his waist at the end of a 25-minute war of pure technical striking ability.

There was a mix of wrestling in there too as both contenders showed every facet of mixed martial arts is important. It was a really excellent fight and while it probably lacked moments where the fight looked like it was going to end, it was a great example of a world class MMA fight.


2. Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez (UFC Vegas 42, November 2021)

A main event bout that lived up to it’s billing between two of the very best featherweights in the world today.

Max Holloway took this fight after his title shot got delayed, and Rodriguez was making his first appearance in almost two years but it was one of the most exciting fights of the year.

Both fighters consistently threw fire at each other, with both taking plenty of damage and producing moments that would have ended the fight against a lesser opponent. On this occasion Holloway was forced to use his superior wrestling in the latter rounds to secure a victory, before both men took a trip to the hospital together.

A fight that had you on the edge of your seat for the full 25-minutes, it won’t be forgotten any time soon.


1. Justin Gaethje vs Michael Chandler (UFC 268, November 2021)

A lightweight banger that somehow exceeded expectations of the fans despite many calling it the fight of the year before it even happened.

Both men knew that a win would likely see them granted the next title shot at 155lbs and both men promised fireworks – and boy did they deliver.

It was a fight that saw both guys swinging for the fences from the opening minute and connecting, but their chin and willpower held out for a full 15-minutes for Gaethje to go the distance. It was a fight that you can watch any time for entertainment, even knowing the result.

The fight of the year by quite a distance, but arguably one of the best fights of all-time too.

Is Conor McGregor vs Max Holloway 2 the fight to make?

It seems as though Conor McGregor has taken a particular interest towards the the man that many have dubbed as ‘the best boxer in the UFC’ in Max Holloway recently.

After his brilliant win over Calvin Kattar on Fight Island in January, Holloway watched on as McGregor was knocked out for the first time in his career by Dustin Poirier just a week later at UFC 257.

McGregor’s attentions were firmly on Poirier for their trilogy fight at UFC 264, which he lost due to doctor’s stoppage when he broke his leg at the end of the first round.



Ever since then, ‘Notorious’ has been vocal on social media about his next bout. He has claimed several times that he wants to fight Poirier again, insisting that they have unfinished business despite ‘The Diamond’ dominating the first round of their fight before his injury.

He’s also had online jousts with the likes of Nate Diaz, Jorge Masvidal, Kamaru Usman and even recently agreed to fight Michael Chandler at some point too.

But it now seems as though McGregor has taken his attentions solely to ‘Blessed’, who earned another Fight of the Night performance award with a brilliant win over Yair Rodriguez at UFC Vegas 42.

Throughout the night, McGregor was constantly taunting Holloway online about his new tag of ‘best boxer in the UFC’, claiming someone who has also absorbed the most head strikes in UFC history can’t be the best boxer in a series of now deleted tweets.

He went so far as to post a video on his Twitter account of him pacing back and forth around his living room, staring at the TV while the camera was focused on Holloway for his introduction in that fight.

Following Holloway’s win, he claimed that he was on the shortlist for a fight with McGregor and that he would welcome a rematch against the former duel-weight champion. But is that the fight to make for both fighters and the UFC?

Their first fight back in 2013 went somewhat under the radar. It was the first time in the UFC that McGregor didn’t get a finish, but despite a torn ACL suffered in the first round was able to earn a unanimous decision victory.

Since then Holloway has been on a tremendous run and has become one of the most popular and effective fighters in the companies history.

Conor McGregor punches Max Holloway in their UFC featherweight bout at TD Garden on August 17, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The two men in question are arguably the best boxers in the company, with great counter-striking and power in McGregor’s company while Holloway is by far the best ever when it comes to volume and body work.

The match-up would be unique, with Holloway’s record of never having been knocked down in his 29 professional fight career being put on the line – while McGregor’s new leg and always waivering cardio would get tested again.

It’s a fight that would undoubtedly have the fans absolutely buzzing, as two crowd favourites go head-to-head in what would be sure to be a stand-up fight for the most part.

But realistically, it doesn’t make much sense. Holloway has earned himself a featherweight title shot now after back-to-back wins since defeats to Alexander Volkanovski, while McGregor in on back-to-back losses and just one win in the last five years.

Opponents Conor McGregor and Max Holloway face off during the UFC weigh-in inside TD Garden on August 16, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Not to mention that the fight would have to see someone come out of their favoured weight-class, with Holloway competing at 145lbs (with one defeat at 155lbs) and McGregor preferring to fight at 155lbs (despite only one win in the UFC in that division).

Business-wise though, it’s bound to appeal to them. If Volkanovski puts up some resistance to fighting Holloway having beaten him twice fairly recently, then finding McGregor an opponent that is main-event worthy and keeps him out of the title picture could really work.

If both fighters were keen for the bout to happen, as it seems they are, and there were viable options for the alternatives, then it’s very real that a fight takes place in 2022.

If it did, you could probably take it to the bank that it would be the highest selling pay-per-view event of the year for the UFC.

UFC Vegas 42 Fallout: The best is still ‘Blessed’

A very good card turned in one of the fights of the year in the main event after nine knockouts from the first ten fights at UFC Vegas 42.

The card itself had plenty of decent names to call from, but none bigger than ‘Blessed’ Max Holloway who was squaring off against the world number three Yair Rodriguez in a featherweight banger to headline.

The main event delivered a back and forth battle between two of the very best strikers in the UFC, with the former champion coming out on top after a war.



Rodriguez won the first round on many people’s scorecards, using leg kicks that worked so well for Alexander Volkanovski in his first fight with Holloway and landing some big punch combinations too.

Holloway struggled to get into boxing range to use his jab because of the kicks, so started going to the body and trying to push through with kicks of his own to close distance.

It worked, but worked better for him was when he started using his wrestling skills.

A career-high three successful takedowns in the fight were a big help towards what ended up being a unanimous decision win for Holloway, earning a 49-46 from one judge and 48-47 from the other two judges.

It showed that despite being arguably the best boxer in the UFC, Holloway is still one of the most well-rounded fighters in the organisation and he isn’t afraid to go to the well when he feels that he needs to.

A third fight with the champion Volkanovski now seems inevitable, with ‘Blessed’ becoming the clear number one contender with yet another win over one of the division’s elite fighters.

But what this fight proved to anyone who ever doubted him is that Holloway can whether a storm. He can adapt when he isn’t necessarily getting the better of the striking exchanges and he will still try and out-work anyone in front of him.

Another title fight in 2022 beckons for the people’s champion, and it seems inevitable that the belt will be back around his waist sooner rather than later.

UFC Vegas 42: Holloway vs Rodriguez – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the APEX centre in Las Vegas this week for a banger of a featherweight main event between Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez.

Holloway is considered the people’s champion of the division and wants to show the world why he is rightfully considered as the number one contender for the title, while Rodriguez is desperate to finally fulfil his potential after being considered a future champion for years.

It’s a very fun card also including the likes of Ben Rothwell, Cynthia Calvillo, Marc Diakiese, Thiago Moises and Khaos Williams.

Last week at UFC 268 we had a brilliant night, securing 13/14 correct picks with three perfect picks to move to 471/730 (64.52%) with 197 perfect picks (41.83%).

We’ll look to improve on that this week and after starting with the early prelims here and finishing off the rest of the prelims here, we’ll finish off the with the main card now.


Song Yadong (17-5-1) vs Julio Arce (17-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

A banger at bantamweight between two guys on the edge of a ranking. Yadong bounced back from defeat to Kyler Phillips at UFC 259 with a split decision win over Casey Kenney at UFC 265. Arce returned from a near two-year absence with a KO win over Andre Ewell at UFC Vegas 32.

Yadong is a brilliant all-round fighter with great wrestling and even better striking, with tremendous speed and power. Arce is a great boxer in his own right with good power and great volume, but he has proven to be hittable on the inside in the past. That is somewhere that Yadong excels and could be a big problem for him in this fight.

Song is so experienced for a 23-year-old and ultimately I think the fact he is so well-rounded can only help him here. He has the power and speed to catch Arce in a stand-up battle and has the wrestling skills to make him think twice and therefore leaving him open to getting caught and getting beaten.
PICK – Song Yadong via Knockout, Round 2

Felicia Spencer (8-3) vs Leah Letson (5-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A women’s featherweight bout in this one, but I’m not sure why it’s on the main card. Spencer has lost her last two, losing a title fight to Amande Nunes at UFC 250 before Norma Dumont earned a split decision win at UFC Vegas 27. Letson is on a five-fight win streak but hasn’t fought since the TUF Finale back in 2018.

Spencer is a natural featherweight with decent boxing skills and a real lack of grappling skills in her weaponry. Letson is making a return after a bunch of health issues kept her out, but she is a good wrestler with decent volume on the feet too. Spencer has fought five times since Letson last did and she’s been in there with some of the best ever.

Ultimately these two have been matched up simply because the featherweight division is empty. Letson will make it competitive for the most part, but Spencer is comfortably better than her and will show it over 15 minutes to earn a victory.
PICK – Felicia Spencer via Decision

Miguel Baeza (10-1) vs Khaos Williams (12-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

Absolute BANGER at welterweight in this one and my pick for fight of the night. Baeza was undefeated and brilliant before he stepped into the cage against Santiago Ponzinibbio last time out, while Khaos has won nine of his last ten bouts including a decision over Matthew Semelsberger at UFC Vegas 29 last time out.

Both of these guys are absolute powerhouses when it comes to striking. Baeza is a more technical striker on the feet with great power, while Khaos is one of the hardest hitters in the division with great speed. An issue for Baeza is that he has been hittable in the past and that is a big problem against someone like Williams, who will punish you for it.

Baeza has got brilliant leg kicks which can effect the footwork of Williams and when they get into exchanges, that could be the difference maker. Neither guy has been finished before, but I don’t see this one going the distance and I think Baeza’s greater technique serves to earn him a highlight reel KO.
PICK – Miguel Baeza via Knockout, Round 2



Ben Rothwell (39-13) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima (18-8-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A big heavyweight bout is the official co-main event for this one. Rothwell has won three of his last four, earning a submission win over Chris Barnett last time out. De Lima on the other hand has alternated wins and losses since 2014, going 6-5 in his last 11 fights with a win over Maurice Greene at UFC Vegas 26.

Rothwell is a powerful striker with great boxing and good submission skills too. De Lima on the other hand is also a super exciting striker with crazy knockout power and good Muay-Thai skills, but the elephant is the room is that he is an out-of-shape light heavyweight. That is a big problem, because he’s big by choice and Rothwell isn’t.

Both of these guys love a first-round knockout, with THIRTY-SIX (36!) between them and the likelihood is we’ll see that again. De Lima is aggressive and has good hand speed, but Rothwell has an iron chin and a granite fist too. Rothwell catches him with a hook in the exchange early and earns a KO win.
PICK – Ben Rothwell via Knockout, Round 1

Max Holloway (22-6) vs Yair Rodriguez (14-2) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A title eliminator in the featherweight division is the main event of the night. Holloway bounced back from consecutive defeats to Alexander Volkanovski with a stunning performance at UFC Fight Island 7 in January over Calvin Kattar. Rodriguez hasn’t fought since a win over Jeremy Stephens back in 2019 but is still ranked at number three in the world.

Holloway is a sensational boxer, arguably the best in the entire UFC, with brilliant power, volume and an incredible gas tank that he uses to just annihilate opponents as the fight enters deep waters. Rodriguez is a very kick-heavy striker with good elbows and spinning attacks too, but generally using his legs to keep range and attack. These are the two best strikers in the division going toe-to-toe and it’s set to be a truly brilliant fight.

But when you look at the style of both of these fighters, it’s Holloway who stands out more. His boxing is so good with his head movement, footwork and jab and there is nobody in the UFC who closes the distance better than him. Rodriguez will have his moments, but overall Holloway is just a level above and I think his body work and boxing ultimately melts Rodriguez for a late finish.
PICK – Max Holloway via Knockout, Round 4

Max Holloway can show the world why he’s still the people’s champion at 145lbs

Once the featherweight title bout at UFC 251 came to it’s conclusion, there weren’t many people around who thought that Max Holloway would be leaving without the belt.

After winning the first three rounds in many people’s eyes, Volkanovski rallied in that bout to take the last two and allowed the judges to have a decision to make. Ultimately, they ruled that the Aussie retained.

Holloway was confused and heartbroken, but he didn’t let it stop him or hold him back.



After a short break away from the cage, ‘Blessed’ returned at Fight Island in the first card of 2021 to take on Calvin Kattar in a bout right at the top of the division.

What ensued was a clear sign that Holloway was at the peak of his powers and one of the very best 145-pound fighters that has ever existed in MMA.

It was a masterful display of striking against someone who many considered to be one of the best strikers in the division. He broke record upon record for total strikes and significant strikes in a bout and showed the world that his claim to being the best boxer in the UFC wasn’t just words.

He was set to be the next challenger for the title once again, only for the Volkanovsi vs Brian Ortega fight to get postponed due to Covid-19. Instead of waiting around and staying inactive, Holloway opted to take a fight against the ever-dangerous Yair Rodriguez instead.

Max Holloway punches Calvin Kattar in a featherweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 17, 2021...

Holloway unfortunately got an injury and was forced to withdraw from the original date in July which has put his year out of funk, but he once again agreed to the bout for UFC Vegas 42 despite the title fight now having taken place.

The 29-year-old has maintained the attitude of ‘anyone, any time, any place’ even since losing the title. A ranking is irrelevant to the Hawaiian, because if he is truly the best in the world as he believes he is then he should win anyway.

A truly inspirational mindset and one that has kept him at the forefront of everyone’s mind when discussing the title picture.

Kattar believed a win over Holloway set him up for a title shot immediately because of the weight his name carries. Ortega revealed that if he had beaten Volkanovski then he wanted his first defence to be against Holloway not only for revenge, but because he’s still seen as the best in the world.

Max Holloway celebrates after defeating Frankie Edgar in their UFC featherweight championship bout during the UFC 240 event at Rogers Place on July...

Holloway knows that a victory confirms his place as the number one contender, but he knows a loss could potentially set him back in his quest to earn back the title he still calls his.

But that’s Holloway and that’s why he is so popular. He expects to win every fight he is in and fans love him. Now this weekend he will look to show once again why he is the people’s champion, knowing a win gets him back in the hunt to be the UFC champion.

Yair Rodriguez can finally reach his potential at UFC Vegas 42

The UFC will return to the Apex this weekend in Las Vegas after two weeks away with four world title fights headlining those cards.

But this weekend will see a world title calibre fight headlining UFC Vegas 42 as former world champion Max Holloway takes on the man many have earmarked as a future champion, Yair Rodriguez.

It will be the first time in over two years that Rodriguez has stepped into an octagon, yet he’ll main event the card against arguably the best in the world.



It tells you all you need to know about just how much Rodriguez is rated by the UFC, his peers and the fans around the world.

His career started way back in 2014 with a win in Mexico City at UFC 180. He followed that up with wins over Charles Rosa, Dan Hooker, Andre Fili, Alex Caceres and the legendary BJ Penn to put himself into contention for a title shot.

He came up against Frankie Edgar though and was beaten to a pulp, with the doctor calling an end to the fight at the end of the second round with his eye swollen shut.

There was a period of readjustment for his expectations by some after that bout, but Rodriguez returned over a year later and earned a hail Mary win against the Korean Zombie with a stunning reverse elbow in the final second of the fifth round.

He’s since beaten Jeremy Stephens in a fight of the night performance too, cementing his place among the top of the division.

His lack of fights recently hasn’t been for a want of trying either. He had an issue with UFC management, and has seen a fight with Zabit Magomedsharipov cancelled three different times.

But now against Max Holloway, he has the chance to show what all the fuss is about.

This isn’t a washed up version of ‘Blessed’ either. Yes he lost the world title and the subsequent rematch (however controversially), but he has bounced back with one of the best performances of the year when he smashed Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Island 7 in January.

Rodriguez will be coming up against one of the best pure strikers in the UFC today, and yet nobody is being bold enough to completely rule him out of winning the fight and there’s a reason for that. He’s incredibly talented and has the heart of a lion.

He is a brilliant striker in his own right, with a kicking-based style but he’s also got great power in his hands and good submission skills if he needs them.

Yair Rodriguez celebrates his victory over BJ Penn during the UFC Fight Night event at the at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 15, 2017 in...

A win for Rodriguez this weekend would not only elevate him to immediately become the next challenger for Alex Volkanovski, but it would justify years of hype around his name.

He has a chance to fulfil that destiny and become the man that everybody believed he was when he flattened BJ Penn. He won’t get a bigger opportunity to become a household name than this.

It won’t be easy and even defeat isn’t the end of the world, but it’s the manner of the defeat. If he gets dismantled in a striking battle like he did against Edgar when he was outwrestled, then the hype is likely to die out.

But if he can keep the fight interesting throughout, have some moments and just misses out then much like Michael Chandler at UFC 268 his stock will only rise even in spite of the result.

He’s either among the elites or he isn’t and this is his chance to prove where he stands.

Max Holloway to fight Yair Rodriguez in July main event

The UFC have announced that Max Holloway will return to action in the octagon against Yair Rodriguez in the main event of the July 17th Fight Night card.

It will be the first time Holloway has fought since his stunning performance in January where he beat Calvin Kattar in a five-round clinic at UFC Fight Island 7, with many thinking that would be enough to get him back in the title picture.

Rodriguez hasn’t fought since October 2019 when he beat Jeremy Stephens via unanimous decision, missing out the entirety of 2020 after withdrawing from an August bout against Zabit Magomedsharipov due to injury.

The fight will see the number one ranked 145lbs fighter in the world take on the number three ranked, with the winner likely to get the next title shot.

Holloway has already claimed his right to the shot, after losing back-to-back decisions to the champion Alexander Volkanovski before bouncing back with one of the best performances in UFC history.

With Volkanovski scheduled to take on Brian Ortega back in March, a title fight seemed inevitable for ‘Blessed’ but when the fight was cancelled as the champion tested positive for COVID-19 the division got held up.

The UFC then paired Volkanovski and Ortega together as coaches for the newest series of The Ultimate Fighter, meaning they won’t fight now until later in the summer. That meant that Holloway would have had to wait until the end of the year for another fight, which is clearly something he isn’t keen on.

Holloway has always claimed to be willing to fight anyone and everyone, so taking an extra fight and putting his number one ranking on the line isn’t something that would have fazed him in the slightest.

For ‘Pantera’, it’s a chance to finally earn himself a UFC title shot too. Since joining the UFC in 2014 Rodriguez has gone 8-1 (1 NC) beating the likes of Charles Rosa, Dan Hooker, Andre Fili, Alex Caceres, BJ Penn and the Korean Zombie. His only defeat came to former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. He got a win over Jeremy Stephens following a no contest the first time around after an accidental eye poke just 15 seconds in.

It should be a fantastic striking battle and will headline an excellent card, which is also scheduled to have Islam Makhachev take on Thiago Moises in the co-main event.