Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez is being targeted for International Fight Week.
According to Fox Sports, the featherweight unification bout between Volkanovski and Rodriguez might take place at UFC 290 on July 8. Nothing has been confirmed, but the 145-pound title fight could be the first matchup announced for International Fight Week, with Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic also rumored for the Las Vegas event.
On February 11, the future of the UFC featherweight division was revealed at UFC 284 in Perth, Australia. The main event featured Volkanovski looking to make history by becoming a two-division UFC champion against lightweight king Islam Makhachev. Unfortunately for ‘The Great,’ Makhachev emerged victorious by unanimous decision.
Volkanovski now plans to defend his featherweight throne next time out. In the UFC 284 co-main event, the 145-pound interim title was up for grabs between Yair Rodriguez and Josh Emmett. Rodriguez validated his championship potential with an impressive second-round triangle choke.
Rodriguez has earned an opportunity to end Volkanovski’s title reign. ‘The Great’ became the UFC featherweight champion in December 2019, defeating Max Holloway by unanimous decision. Since then, the Australian-born fight has defended his throne against Holloway x2, Brian Ortega, and Chan Sung Jung. Only time will tell if he can add ‘El Pantera’ to that list.
Yair Rodriguez triangle chokes Josh Emmett to win the interim UFC featherweight championship at UFC 284 pic.twitter.com/OoHoFdSz92
— Granby Roll (@ChillemDa4) February 13, 2023
Would Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez headline UFC 290?
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Yair Rodriguez is an intriguing title fight, but International Fight Week will likely require a main event with more star power. There are rumors that Jon Jones’ first title defense might be able to fulfill that need.
At UFC 285, Jones silenced the doubters by securing the vacant heavyweight championship with a first-round submission against Ciryl Gane. During his post-fight interview, ‘Bones’ called out Stipe Miocic, who was sitting cageside. Since then, Miocic has done several interviews, claiming that July 8 would be the perfect time for his return.
When asked if he plans to fight at International Fight Week, Jones had this to say on Twitter:
“More than likely, felt like that was kind of sprung on me. Need to talk with my team/UFC and come up with a plan.”
Although Volkanovski vs. Rodriguez could end up as the UFC 290 co-main event, the hype surrounding the featherweight title fight shouldn’t be underestimated. ‘The Great’ has become a full-blown superstar, which was showcased at UFC 284. Meanwhile, ‘El Pantera’ has proved his creative offense can threaten any 145-pounder, creating an intriguing unification bout later this year.
More than likely, felt like that was kind of sprung on me. Need to talk with my team/UFC and come up with a plan. https://t.co/BgRhTBYjNg
— BONY (@JonnyBones) March 10, 2023