Rodrigues (14-5 MMA, 5-2 UFC) meets Tavares (20-8 MMA, 15-8 UFC) on Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 236 (ESPN+) main card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
Tavares, a perennial middleweight contender, has fought just about every notable name, from former champions Israel Adesanya, Robert Whittaker and Chris Weidman to current champion Dricus Du Plessis. Rodrigues thinks beating someone like Tavares could be his ticket to a big fight.
“Brad fought maybe everyone in the division,” Rodrigues said at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 236 media day. “He has a lot of experience, but I believe his time is gone and now is my time. I’m ready for this.
“And if you see so many of the guys that fought him and beat him, they fought against someone at the top. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, if they’re going to offer me, but I believe it’s going to be one good step in my career.”
Rodrigues wanting to fight top-level competition is more of a desire than a demand. He’s willing to put in the necessary work to get there.
“I’m not going to rush,” Rodrigues said. “I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, I need that.’ I want to do what I need to do. My plan is two more fights this year – maybe in the middle of the year and the end of the year. I believe I will finish this year on top of the contenders and my goal is to be a champion. I’m looking up, and I will take my time – but I will climb that.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 236.