LAS VEGAS – Daniel Rodriguez feels like the rightful winner, despite some online saying he’s not.
The UFC welterweight defeated Li Jingliang in a split decision on the main card of Saturday’s UFC 279. It was a competitive bout, but some people criticized the scoring of the fight – including UFC president Dana White.
Rodriguez (16-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) understands it was a close fight, but feels he did enough to earn the victory.
“It was a close fight, a really close fight,” Rodriguez said. “I thought I did more in the later rounds and I picked up the pace a little bit more. And yeah, I did what I had to do to win the fight.”
The bout between Rodriguez and Jingliang came together last minute, along with a couple other matchups on the card. After Khamzat Chimaev missed weight on Friday morning, the UFC was forced to shuffle the deck.
Jingliang’s original opponent Tony Ferguson ended up fighting Nate Diaz in the main event, and Rodriguez’s opponent Kevin Holland ended up fighting Chimaev in the co-main event – which left Rodriguez and Jingliang to duke it out.
UFC 279 results: Nate Diaz fights on his terms, submits Tony Ferguson in fourth round
UFC 279 results: Khamzat Chimaev steamrolls Kevin Holland with first-round D'Arce choke submission
Khamzat Chimaev, Kevin Holland scuffle; Nate Diaz throws object backstage at UFC 279 pre-fight news conference
Rodriguez respects Jingliang and is happy he took the fight, considering Rodriguez entered a larger fighter, as he was preparing for what was supposed to be a catchweight bout at 180 pounds against Holland.
“I wasn’t sure if he was going to take the fight considering that I did weigh in nine pounds heavier than him,” Rodriguez said. “But when he did, I was happy that he accepted the fight.
“I mean, I’ve been looking for a fight. It’s been a while. I’m coming off a year layoff and against an opponent like that it was a crazy situation, but like always, I’ll fight anybody. That’s why I stepped up to fight Holland and this guy. It really makes no difference who I fight.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 279.