Yair Rodriguez will consider himself true champion if Alexander Volkanovski stays at lightweight

PERTH, Australia – If Alexander Volkanovski never comes back to 145 pounds, Yair Rodriguez will consider himself a champion with a UFC 284 win.

Rodriguez (14-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) faces Josh Emmett (18-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) for the interim featherweight title in Saturday’s co-main event at RAC Arena. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

With reigning featherweight champion Volkanovski challenging lightweight champ Islam Makhachev in the night’s headliner, there’s a possibility he doesn’t come back to his original weight class with a win. So if he doesn’t, Rodriguez can’t see why he wouldn’t be considered the real champion.

“The journey’s been long,” Rodriguez told reporters at media day. “It’s been like 10 years for me to get here to this point finally. I don’t want to be disrespectful and say there is no true belt or whatever, it’s just what it is. If I get to fight for the actual belt then that will be the belt. If the actual champion decides not to come back to 145 pounds, then the champion of the division is whoever has the interim belt.”

But first, Rodriguez has to get past the division’s all-time leader in knockdowns landed and he knows he has to be cautious.

“I think he’s a really dangerous opponent,” Rodriguez said. “I think he can make some damage if he gets to connect a single punch so I’m gonna have to be very careful with him. It’s a guy I really respect, he’s doing this for the right reasons, and I expect him to bring the best of him. So, it’s a war as always.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 284.


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Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie