The former king of the featherweights returns as Max Holloway welcomes Yair Rodríguez back to the octagon after a two-year layoff. Holloway (22-6-0) is a humongous favorite here per the UFC odds – the biggest on the card and the biggest he’s ever been since 2014.
Likewise, this will be the largest Rodríguez (13-2-0) has been as an underdog. The Mexican star has some impressive wins on his resume but this is his toughest challenge, to say the least. Holloway should prevail in this action-packed fight for as long as it lasts.
- Date: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
- Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, NV
- Watch on: ESPN+
Max Holloway vs Yair Rodríguez
Weight Class: Featherweight (145)
Rounds: Five (Main Event)
Moneyline: Yair Rodríguez +475, Max Holloway -750
Totals: Over 3½ (-175), Under 3½ (+145)
These online sports betting lines are ridiculous, to say the least. Still, we can’t doubt Holloway, who has only lost to the current champ while Rodríguez has been on the sidelines dealing with injuries and pulling out of fights.
Holloway opened at -550 and was quickly bet down. It’s tough to recommend a bet online for a line this wide, but the 29-year-old is the UFC record holder for significant strikes landed and set another UFC record in his last fight against Calvin Kattar.
Rodríguez Can’t Start Slow
The inactivity has all but stifled the hype around “El Pantera.” But when he’s on, Rodríguez is one of the most exciting contenders in the UFC. He’s authored several thrilling wins, including a flying head kick and a last-second upward elbow.
But Rodríguez tends to also be tentative and too measured in his attacks. While he lands at 4.33 significant strikes per minute, Rodriguez is far from a volume striker. He can ill afford to wait around too long, especially against a juggernaut like Holloway.
Rodríguez has only lost once in the UFC, but it was a dismantling at the hands of a top-five contender in Frankie Edgar. He also didn’t look great against a similarly sized opponent in Alex Caceres, who was not a ranked fighter. Oozing with potential, now is the time for Rodríguez to reward the UFC’s faith in him.
Holloway Hungry for Third Fight
When we picked Holloway to beat Kattar, we didn’t think he would beat him pillar to post, set a UFC record with 445 significant strikes and do it while showboating. That’s how great this Hawaiian is as he looks to convince the UFC brass for a third shot at Alexander Volkanovski.
Holloway is not far off from his claims of being the UFC’s best boxer. He throws at a ridiculous rate and precision, landing 7.26 significant strikes per minute at a 46 percent clip. Considering he’s fought some of the greatest strikers like Volkanovski, Jose Aldo and Dustin Poirier twice each, this stat looks even more impressive.
But no matter how great a fighter is, they cannot overlook the competition. A few too many showboats may get him caught. Fortunately, he also has a cast-iron chin and has rarely been hurt in his fights, which only makes him more dangerous.
Holloway vs Rodríguez: Who Wins?
Holloway wins this fight nine out of 10 times and that one time he loses is when Rodríguez knocks him out (+750) by catching him with a body kick or a flying knee. And even when Rodriguez does, he will need to follow it up as Holloway is extremely durable.
For added value when betting online on Holloway, bet for him to win via a finish at +130 as he starches Rodríguez until he can’t answer the bell. In fact, we are banking on this happening before the championship rounds, so the UFC best bet is for the total to go under 3½.