Many fight fans disagreed with the decision to let featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez go from the UFC after just one loss to Frankie Edgar, but the real reason is for turning down fights.
Former UFC title contender and current Bellator Grand Prix semi-finalist Chael Sonnen broke down the Yair Rodriguez debacle and emphasized that conclusion (Bloody Elbow):
“I did read a post on something that kids call the ‘underground forum’, and they were saying how that was wrong of Dana White to release him for not wanting to fight. Well, you’re devastatingly wrong about that point. Dana has to do that. He has to make sure (that he’s) maintaining the integrity of his company, (that) the guys are fighting the right guys.”
“This is a UFC policy, and this is explained to all of the guys on the roster from the beginning. You will be called an offer to fight,” he explained. “You can say no to the first fight, but you cannot say no to the second fight. So you play that however you want. You can say no once, you can’t say no twice.”
Rodriguez began his UFC career with six victories in a row to compile a 10-1 record in MMA overall.
The flashy striker eventually ran into a brick wall in the form of Frankie Edgar at UFC 211 and was ultimately TKO’d at the end of the second round. To hear UFC President Dana White tell it, Rodriguez started to turn down fights after that, and after multiple times trying to get “El Pantera” to fight, the promotion threw its hands up in frustration and gave up. The UFC let Rodriguez go into free agency, where he is likely to sign with Bellator if things with the UFC don’t get patched up.
Sonnen further elaborated that Yair didn’t do himself any favors by turning down fights:
“In Yair’s case, when he turned two guys down, well, of course, you release him. There’s nothing else you can do. It’s not the boxing model where guys get protected or guys get to pick their own fights, or guys can only take fights that they think they can win. It doesn’t work like that.”
“The contenders and the ranked guys have to fight the other contenders and the other ranked guys, whoever they are, as long as they’re in the same weight class. That’s it. So when he said no (twice), he became eligible for (release).”
Is Chael right about Yair Rodriguez and the UFC? Where will “El Pantera” end up?