Yair Rodriguez far exceeded UFC president Dana White’s expectations in his loss to Max Holloway at UFC Fight Night 197.

Rodriguez (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) suffered a unanimous decision loss to Holloway (23-6 MMA, 19-6 UFC) in Saturday’s main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. It was awarded the evening’s “Fight of the Night” bonus, and it was an especially strong effort from Rodriguez while coming off a two-year layoff.

The Mexican fighter was listed as a significant betting underdog coming into the contest, but he managed to push former UFC champ Holloway to the limit for five rounds.

“Anybody who’s off two years, I never expect this kind of performance from them – at all,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at the UFC Fight Night 197 post-fight news conference. “Not just the entire fight, but from the beginning when the fight started, his timing was perfect. His speed and accuracy and how he kept going for the calf kick. You couldn’t look any better than Yair looked tonight. He looked incredible. His chin, heart – just everything. Everything was there.”

Rodriguez has had his share of issues outside the cage over the UFC. Injuries, contract disputes with the UFC brass and more have stopped him from gaining any momentum.

The fight with Holloway appears to have put him firmly in the promotion’s good graces, though. Rodriguez is looking at some level of time off after he damaged his foot in the bout, but once he comes back, White hinted he will be getting another high-profile fight at 145 pounds.

“His stock didn’t drop at all,” White said. “He came in and fought his ass off. He looked great, and now it’s just going to depend on what type of injuries he has. Go heal up and figure out what’s next.”


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