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Yair Rodriguez bothered by Ilia Topuria’s brashness before UFC 298: ‘I respect everybody but this guy’

Yair Rodriguez doesn’t think Ilia Topuria can afford to lose to UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski.

Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) challenges Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 298 (pay-per-view, ESPN, ESPN+) at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Topuria’s brash nature has rubbed Rodriguez the wrong way. The undefeated contender said if he dethrones Volkanovski, he won’t defend his title against Rodriguez, Max Holloway, or Brian Ortega. Instead, he’ll go after Conor McGregor, and Rodriguez thinks he’s delusional.

“He’ll talk sh*t about whomever,” Rodriguez said on “The MMA Hour.” “He’s mentioning Canelo (Alvarez), he’s mentioning (Conor) McGregor. Why do you think he’s doing that? Because he’s marketing. He’ll never get to face somebody like McGregor. He’ll never get to face somebody like Canelo. Of course not.”

With everything Topuria has said, including his prediction of a first-round knockout, Rodriguez thinks a loss would be a terrible look for him.

“His career will be over after this fight against Volkanovski,” Rodriguez said. “He’s been talking so much sh*t, saying so many things, and people are going to f*cking be laughing at him after this.”

Rodriguez (16-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) runs things back with Ortega (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in a UFC Fight Night co-headliner Feb. 24 in Mexico City. Although he’s picking Volkanovski to win, he isn’t necessarily rooting for him.

“I’m like neutral, you know? Whomever wins, wins, whatever,” Rodriguez said. “But I don’t really see Topuria winning. That’s my honest opinion.”

Rodriguez won’t campaign for Topuria right away if he loses to Volkanovski. However, he’d love to get his hands on him at some point.

“If I win my fight against Brian Ortega, which I’m planning on doing, and Alexander Volkanovski wins, I would like to face Volkanovski, of course,” Rodriguez said. “Because why would I face (Topuria coming off a loss)? Like, he has nothing to offer.

“But anyway, I would like to face him at some point. I would like to f*ck him up. Especially like if UFC plans and goes to Spain, f*ck, man, I’ll f*cking fight in Spain because it’s his house. I would love to f*cking beat him in his f*cking house. I respect everybody but this guy.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 298.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie