Yair Rodriguez downplays Ilia Topuria’s resume: ‘Talked so much sh*t, they just give him the opportunity’

Yair Rodriguez thinks Ilia Topuria talked his way into a title opportunity.

Topuria (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) challenges featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski (26-3 MMA, 13-2 UFC) in the UFC 298 main event Feb. 17 at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.

Undefeated Topuria is coming off back-to-back dominant wins over Bryce Mitchell and Josh Emmett, but former interim champion Rodriguez (16-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC) thinks the Spaniard’s brash confidence fast tracked him to a title shot.

“He was talking so much sh*t about me, about my last fight,” Rodriguez told Middle Easy. “I don’t know. He said something about me, whatever, and I didn’t want to say anything like that. But I just I was like scrolling on my Instagram, and I saw the video, and I thought it was funny because it’s true, you know: I have to fight against the best fighters in the world.

“Frankie Edgar, BJ Penn, Max Holloway – for me to get one title shot, you know I have to go up, down, up, down, up, down, and because this guy just talked so much sh*t, they just give him the opportunity, you know? And I’m OK with that, too. He will have to face me, he’ll have to face Max, he’ll have to face somebody like (Brian) Ortega, or Volkanovski, and then we’ll see what he’s made of.”

Rodriguez thinks Volkanovski has more tools to win against Topuria, but worries that he may have not taken enough time off after his knockout loss to lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 294 in October.

“I don’t care,” Rodriguez said of the outcome. “Whoever will be fine. I just think that the abilities of Volkanovski are way better than Ilia’s. Ilia’s good, but I don’t think he has what he needs in order for him to win that fight.

“The only thing I see is that Volk took the fight too soon coming off a loss – not only a loss, but a KO. I don’t know if he wants to demonstrate to himself that he can do it or whatever, but I would have taken more time to recover.”

Rodriguez will look to rebound from his title loss to Volkanovski at UFC 290 when he runs things back with Brian Ortega (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in a UFC Fight Night co-headliner Feb. 24 in Mexico City, Mexico. Rodriguez won their first meeting at UFC on ABC 3 in July 2022 after Ortega suffered a shoulder injury during a grappling exchange.

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

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie