by Eoin Togher
Mexican fighter Yair Rodriguez is coming off the biggest win of his career, as he defeated UFC hall of Famer Bj Penn in dominating fashion in January. This victory really put the whole division on notice and highlighted the talent the promising Featherweight contains. The Mexican has recently moved up to 8th in the Featherweight rankings and many people are wondering what’s next for Rodriguez, there are most definitely some mouth watering opponents for Yair. Here are the three fights I feel that would be the most interesting and would also really test the abilities of the Mexican.
The hard-hitting American would surely make for an interesting bout for Yair. Their similar styles in their stand up game would make for an interesting matchup, with Stephens heavy hands and Rodriguez’s diverse kicks would make this an intense contest and a very tough one to call. This would be a good bout for Stephens, as he is looking to bounce back following his decision loss to Frankie Edgar at UFC 205 and what better way to do that than to defeat the young hot shot who everybody is talking about. This fight would also benefit Yair, as he is looking to move up in the rankings, where he is currently ranked at 8th, while Stephens is 5th, a win for the Mexican would really propel him to the top 5 and really stake his claim for a title shot.
2. Cub Swanson
The veteran has recently be on a positive run. After losing two fights in a row, to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway, Swanson has recently went on a three fight win streak, defeating Harcan Dias, Tatsuya Kawajiri and an impressive win in one of the fights of the year with Doo Ho Choi. Swanson is looking to launch for another title bid and while the bickering between Jose Aldo and Max Holloway continues, what better way to get your name out there than beat another youngster. This would be a mouth-watering contest between the two and it would be interesting to see how Yair would tackle another legend and what game plan he would use, against a well rounded opponent like Cub Swanson.
Chan Sung Jung (Korean Zombie)
This fight to me is the most compelling out of the three for many reasons. After a successful comeback for the zombie on Saturday night, when he dispatched Dennis Bermudez inside the first round, the Korean needs a big headline fight to get his name to the stature that it used to be at. Still only at the age of 29, Jung has a lot of time in his career and is only coming into his prime now. I feel the former title contender would really challenge Yair in many different ways. His spectacular submission techniques and his recent found knockout power, would give Rodriguez problems and really show the world if the Mexican is the next big thing. This contest would also show if Yair can stand with a former title contender and if he was successful in this bout, there is no reason why the youngster wouldn’t march his way into the top five.
It will be interesting to see who Yair is matched up against next, but with some of the caliber in the Featherweight division at the moment, it seems as if whoever he faces it will be an intriguing contest and definitely one tuning into.