The Mexican standout thinks Volkanovski (25-1 MMA, 12-0 UFC), who holds the belt at 145 pounds, will have an uphill battle in his next outing when he takes on lightweight champion Islam Makhachev in an effort to become a two-division champion.
Volkanovski takes on Makhachev (23-1 MMA, 12-1 UFC) in the main event of UFC 284 on Feb. 11 in Perth, Australia. Rodriguez (14-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) also competes on that same card against Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight title.
“I think it’s a very complicated fight for the champion at 145 pounds,” Rodriguez told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “I think it’s a fight that can get complicated for any fighter because of the style that Islam Makhachev has.
“However, I don’t think it’s impossible to beat him. If he shows up with a good strategy, keeps his mobility and fights the way he fights, he could probably win. If I could put it in percentages, I’d give Islam Makhachev an 80 percent chance in winning. But the scale can always shift either way. This game often depends on strategy and preparation each fighter carries, so we’ll see how Alexander Volkanovski can shift the scale.”
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Yet, despite favoring Makhachev, Rodriguez would like to see Volkanovski victorious. If both get the job done on Feb. 11, “El Pantera” would be facing a streaking, two-division champion – a much more meaningful bout.
“For me, it’s better for Alexander Volkanovski to win because if I get to face him, it would be even a bigger challenge,” Rodriguez said. “I’d be fighting the double champion, right? So for me, it’s better for him to win.
“I have nothing against Islam or Volkanovski – actually, quite the opposite. I have the utmost respect for them. Let the best man win. But it would be in my benefit for Alexander Volkanovski to win, obviously. Just in terms of my career, I’d like for him to win.”