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The main event comes in the Featherweight division, as Brian Ortega takes on Yair Rodriguez. Coming off his second failed bid to capture the Featherweight title, Ortega returns to the octagon looking to re-enter into the mix. Ranked second in the division, Ortega still remains in an excellent position. With new contenders emerging, Ortega has been given an opportunity to knock one off and improve his chances at earning a third crack at the title. Meanwhile, Rodriguez comes into this fight off a back-and-forth brawl with the former champion, Max Holloway. The decision did not go his way, but his stock if anything, went up. Third in the ranking and having never fought for the title, with a clear need for a new title challenger, Rodriguez has a huge opportunity at earning a title shot with a victory.

Whenever both gentlemen step inside the octagon, expect violence. Ortega, who is a grappling wizard, has mainly fancied striking. While Ortega is no slouch on the feet, just watch his fight against Chan Sung Jung, it’s the area of his game in which has led him astray. Knowing that opponents want nothing do with Ortega on the ground, the Mexican-American has only been taken down in four of his ten UFC fights. In those four instances, Ortega has finished three opponents. With a dangerous submission game, everyone not named Alexander Volkanovski have escaped his clutches. Wanting nothing to do with grappling is Rodriguez. A striker to the core, Rodriguez has one of the most dynamic and diverse striking arsenals in MMA. Durable as nails, Rodriguez has proven that he can endure punishment and keep coming forward. Backed by excellent cardio, “La Pantera” throws excellent output and pushes a hard pace. If there is anything that is worrisome about Rodriguez, it’s his iffy takedown defense and developing grappling.

Knowing all to well that Ortega will elect to strike, I favor Rodriguez in this fight. If there is anything certain though, this has barnburner and bonus written all over it. With both men boasting durability and cardio, I expect the fight to be a back-and-forth battle. However, Ortega gets hit too often and visibly wears it. Two aspects that should aide Rodriguez to a late TKO victory.

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