- Yair Rodriguez is the favorite at -165.
- Josh Emmett is the underdog at +135.
- Rodriguez currently ranks second in the division, while Emmett sits at the number five spot.
- The winner of this interim title match will be the next challenger to Alexander Volkanovski.
The co-main event of UFC 284 will produce the next title challenger for reigning undisputed Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski as number two-ranked contender Yair Rodriguez (15-3) clashes with number five-ranked challenger Josh Emmett (18-2) for the 145-pound interim title.
— UFC (@ufc) February 6, 2023
A five-fight winning streak is not enough for Emmett to make him the favorite in the UFC odds because he comes in as the underdog at +135, while Rodriguez only had three victories in his last five bouts and is still the consensus pick in UFC betting at -165.
This will be Rodriguez’s 13th UFC fight in eight years, while Emmett appears in his 12th bout under the Las Vegas-based promotion in seven years of competition.
Yair Rodriguez Recent Fight Results
Yair Rodriguez had a 5-1 win-loss record when he entered The Ultimate Fighter competition in October 2014. He finished Rodolfo Rubio in the tournament’s semifinals before unanimously beating Leonardo Morales to earn a UFC contract in November 2014.
“El Pantera” instantly made a massive wave in the featherweight division by stringing up five straight wins over Charles Rosa (split decision in June 2015), Dan Hooker (unanimous decision in October 2015), Andre Fili (second-round knockout in April 2016), Alex Caceres (split decision in August 2016) and BJ Penn (second-round TKO in January 2017).
But this fantastic winning run was halted by Frankie Edgar in May 2017 after he shut Rodriguez’s left eye and forced the doctor to call a stoppage to the fight at the end of the second round. More than a year after sustaining his second career loss, the Mexican returned to action against Chan Sung Jung in November 2018.
Rodriguez was on the brink of losing to the Korean Zombie via decision, but he uncorked an incredible last-second elbow knockout out of nowhere to steal the victory in the dying seconds of the fight. Following that win was a high-level showdown against Jeremy Stephens in September 2019. Unfortunately, it ended up in a no-contest due to an eye poke.
A month later, in October 2019, Rodriguez and Stephens were scheduled for an immediate rematch where the Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico native outclassed his opponent via unanimous decision to move him up in the featherweight division rankings.
The Mexican striker had a one-year hiatus from fighting and returned in November 2021 against former champion Max Holloway. Their fight night headliner match turned into a classic fight, but Holloway outpointed Rodriguez en route to a unanimous decision loss.
Despite that defeat from Holloway, Rodriguez maintained his status as a top contender in the division and was pitted against Brian Ortega in July 2022. The 30-year-old picked up a first-round TKO win over T-City as he injured his shoulder. That huge win over Ortega earned him a slot for the interim title.
Josh Emmett Recent Fight Results
Josh Emmett was an undefeated fighter with nine wins, including five finishes, when the UFC signed him in 2016. The athlete from Sacramento, California, scored back-to-back decision wins over Jon Tuck and Scott Holtzman in his first two fights under the Las Vegas-based promotion.
In his third fight, however, he suffered his first career loss at the hands of Desmond Green in a close split decision in April 2017. The Team Alpha Male representative quickly bounced back with a unanimous decision win against Felipe Arantes in October 2017 and a first-round knockout of Ricardo Lamas in December 2017.
Emmett’s apparent rise to the upper echelon of the featherweight division was sent crashing back down by Jeremy Stephens, who knocked him out in the second round of their February 2018 showdown via an elbow strike. It was a wake-up call for the 37-year-old, and he responded well.
Since that second career loss, Emmett has become undefeated with wins against Michael Johnson (third-round knockout in March 2019), Mirsad Bektic (first-round TKO in July 2019), Shane Burgos (unanimous decision in June 2020) and Dan Ige (unanimous decision in December 2021).
The victory that sealed Emmett’s place in the featherweight interim title fight with Yair Rodriguez was his latest triumph over fellow top contender Calvin Kattar in June 2019, where he eked out a split decision verdict to his favor in the highly debatable result. This interim title match will be the American’s biggest fight to date.
Rodriguez vs. Emmett: Tale of the Tape and Fight Analysis
On paper, the physical advantages all point in Yair Rodriguez’s direction as he has the six-inch height advantage of 5-foot-11 compared to Emmett’s 5-foot-6 frame. Additionally, the Mexican will have an inch reach edge of 71 inches against Emmett’s 70 inches and a two-inch longer leg reach of 41.5 inches contrasting the American’s 39.5 inches.
The striking numbers are almost identical, but Rodriguez still has slightly better numbers in significant strikes landed per minute of 4.67 (45%) against Emmett’s 4.28 (37%) and significant strikes absorbed per minute at 4.12 (53%) compared to Emmett’s 4.29 (63%). Interestingly, the four major categories in the grappling department were split among the two.
Emmett has better statistics in takedown average per 15 minutes of 1.04 and takedown accuracy of 40% against Rodriguez’s 0.83 and 28% numbers. However, Rodriguez has the higher takedown defense percentage of 62% and a submission average per 15 minutes of 0.74 compared to Emmett’s 58% and 0.10.
Putting the statistical numbers behind them, this interim title bout will be a striking spectacle because these two featherweight contenders have similar fighting styles that love to engage on the feet and always wants to rip their opponent’s head off with every blow. However, the key to victory between them is different.
For Rodriguez, he should fully maximize his height and reach advantages to keep Emmett at bay throughout the fight. His patented kicks, which are also an integral piece in his arsenal, will also play a crucial role in realizing his dream of becoming a UFC interim champion.
On the other hand, Emmett should close the distance by pressuring Rodriguez and forcing him to engage in the pocket. That way, he will have the best chance to land his signature right-hand punch, which packs a lot of power. This same punch was responsible for the six TKO/KO victories on his record.
Official Prediction: Unanimous decision victory for Yair Rodriguez.
See the entire Rodriguez vs. Emmett odds and wagers here.
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