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UFC Fight Night: Five reasons you can’t afford to miss Max Holloway vs Yair Rodriguez live on BT Sport
Former UFC featherweight champion Holloway returns after his record-breaking win over Calvin Kattar.
UFC 267 and 268 are in the books after a fortnight that will live long in the memory.
From Glover Teixeira finally realising his dream of becoming world champion to Kamaru Usman edging bitter rival Colby Covington, we have enjoyed a golden period of MMA on BT Sport.
The action keeps on coming on your home of UFC, as former featherweight king Max Holloway returns against Yair Rodriguez on Saturday.
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Expect fireworks at the UFC Apex in what is being billed as a final eliminator for a title shot against champion Alexander Volkanovski.
Heavyweights Ben Rothwell and Marcos Rogerio de Lima clash in the co-main, with women’s featherweights Felicia Spencer and Leah Letson also squaring off.
Miguel Baeza and Khaos Williams go head-to-head in a welterweight bout that should be an explosive affair and Song Yadong’s clash with Julio Arce wraps up the main card.
With even more action scheduled for earlier in the night, here are five reasons why you can’t miss Saturday’s Fight Night live on BT Sport 2HD from 7pm.
Holloway the show-stopper
Holloway recovered from back-to-back defeats to Volkanovski in sensational style with an utterly dominant win over Calvin Kattar in January.
In one of the most one-sided fights in UFC history, the Hawaii-native landed a record 445 significant strikes over five rounds in a striking clinic in Abu Dhabi.
He even turned away from his opponent mid-bout to tell the broadcast team cageside that he is the best boxer in the UFC.
Dana White said he believes the former champion deserves another shot at Volkanovski after the comprehensive win. “One of the all-time greats, period, in fighting,” he said.
A trilogy bout against the Australian seems like the natural next move for Holloway if he overcomes Rodriguez, but the 29-year-old has suggested that he has several options.
Speaking ahead of his return on Saturday he said: “I mean, at the end of the day, I’ve got five title wins, and I mean, my sixth title win, would I want it against Alex?
“I’ve got a win over the 155 champ. Right now, I’m on a very short list for Conor McGregor – always – and you know, I’m the best boxer in the UFC.
“So, you know, in times like these, with these wild fights being made, you know, let you guys use your guys’ imagination. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”
Hopes of another shot at the world title or a rematch against a returning McGregor would be put on hold if he doesn’t produce another show-stopping performance against Rodriguez however.
Saturday’s main event was originally scheduled for July before injury forced Holloway to reschedule.
Five months later, ‘Blessed’ is fit and firing again ahead of a must-watch main event that will have huge implications for not only himself but the featherweight scene and beyond.
Rodriguez plans to gate-crash the featherweight shake-up
Rodriguez has become the forgotten man of the division. He’s unbeaten in his last three bouts but hasn’t competed since October 2019 when he outpointed Jeremy Stephens.
His absence has been partly due to a US Anti-Doping Agency ban for failing to disclose his whereabouts during testing.
Despite his inactivity, the 29-year-old Mexican is the number three ranked featherweight and will be in line for a title shot against Volkanovski if he defies the odds to beat Holloway.
He delivered what is considered one of the greatest ever knockouts against Chan Sung Jung with just one second remaining of their bout in 2018.
Down on the cards and facing the prospect of defeat, he unleashed a vicious elbow to KO 'The Korean Zombie' and produce one of the most remarkable finishes ever seen in the Octagon.
His power is beyond doubt and 'El Pantera', who comes from a Taekwondo background, will be looking to engage Holloway on the feet for as long as the five-round bout lasts.
“I’ve been waiting for these, like, forever – I’ve been trying to get big names,” Rodriguez said.
“That’s what I’ve been fighting for all my life, my career, fighting people that are in front of me in the rankings, people that are going to put me in a better position, not guys that are behind me.
“I mean, I’m sure that the title shot is going to be in front of me, but first I’ve got to win against Max.
“Anything can happen in there, and I’m not focusing on that right now. My focus is Max Holloway.”
Heavyweight co-main could steal the show
Rothwell and Rogerio de Lima will be looking to roll back the years in what promises to be an explosive co-main event on Saturday night.
40-year-old Rothwell recovered from a decision loss to Marcin Tybura with a submission victory over Chris Barnett in his last outing in May, to move to 3-1 in his last four bouts.
He has become something of a gatekeeper for heavyweights with top 10 aspirations but is a dangerous prospect for any fighter in the division, with wins over the likes of Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem.
Speaking ahead of his 53rd professional contest, the veteran insists that there is plenty more to prove: “The passion is always there. In my blood I’m a fighter, that’s just the way it is.
“If I was born in a different time, I would have been one of the gladiators in the colosseum killing people.
“There’s a lot that I still want to do and prove. Remind everybody that I am one of the best heavyweights on the planet.”
He’ll be looking to pick up win number 40 of his career against Rogerio de Lima who has won five and lost five of his last 10 bouts.
The Brazilian dominated Maurice Greene to get the decision on the scorecards in his previous contest and will look to use his grappling experience against the American.
He holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and says that he is not concerned about his patchy recent record ahead of his meeting with Rothwell.
“It’s all about learning and I know I’m going to be better this Saturday and get the W and top 15 of the heavyweight division, keep your eyes on me,” he said.
Don’t miss any of the action as two seasoned heavyweights slug it out in a fight of the night contender.
British interest as Marc ‘Bonecrusher’ Diakiese returns
Congolese-born British lightweight Marc Diakiese returns after over a year out of the Octagon when he takes on Rafael Alves.
The 28-year-old won his first three UFC bouts before losing the next three against Drakkar Klose, Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast.
He bounced back with a decision win over Joseph Duffy in London in 2019, with another victory over American Lando Vannata coming six months later.
“I feel like I’m ready to take on the world. I truly do,” Diakiese said after the Vannata win.
“I feel like before I was just a flashy fighter that didn’t know himself but now, I do, and I do feel that I’m ready to take on top ranked fighters.”
However, his momentum was stalled when he was comprehensively outpointed by Rafael Fiziev in his last bout in July 2020.
Both men were awarded $50,000 after the contest was declared Fight of the Night, but that was no consolation for 'Bonecrusher' who must now rebuild again.
Alves, who earned his contract after impressing on Dana White’s Contender Series, won five in a row before he was beaten by Damir Ismagulov in May.
He is a proven finisher but will have to avoid Diakiese’s highlight reel combinations as both look to propel themselves into lightweight contention.
It's (prime) time!
If all that is not enough, Saturday’s prelims will begin at 7pm UK time with the main card starting two hours later, with the whole evening available on BT Sport 2HD.
And if you can’t watch live, BT Sport subscribers can catch up at any time using our brilliant enhanced video player on the BT Sport app and BTSport.com.
You won’t miss a second of the action thanks to our interactive timeline, which lets you control your own viewing experience by allowing you to scroll back through the entire card - or skip to your preferred fight using our 'chapters' feature.
And most importantly, the entire card will remain available to watch spoiler-free immediately after broadcast - as it will on our large screen device app.
You can also watch a replay of the fight card on BT Sport on Sunday night. Check the TV Guide for more information.