At UFC Vegas over the weekend, Daniel Rodriguez was supposed to have a high profile match-up with Kevin Holland. Instead, a Holland injury resulted in a short-notice fight with Gabriel Green — a compatriot of Rodriguez from their regional circuit days.
Speaking with Cageside Press following the fight, the welterweight noted that “COVID is affecting everybody. You know, especially fighters, gyms are closed. Fighting Gabriel Green was something that was scheduled to happen a few years ago. He’s a top guy in the state on the local circuit in California.”
It’s a fight that Rodriguez was seeking out. “I don’t have nothing against the guy. But competition-wise I always wanted to fight him. We were supposed to fight for a title, but he had a couple injuries he had to take care of.” As a result, Rodriguez moved on with his career. Fate, however, brought them back together at UFC Vegas. “I continued my career and sure enough, dude ended up taking this fight on short notice. Nothing but respect towards the guy. He’s a tough guy. He’s got all my respect.”
It feels like fate has played a hand in bringing Rodriguez to the UFC. Back on the Contender Series in July of 2019, “D-Rod” was the only winner on his episode not to get a ticket to the big show. Instead, he took another fight outside the promotion before getting a huge short-notice opportunity of his own last time out.
“After the Contender Series fight, I was the only fighter that didn’t get a contract that night. I was a little bit bummed out, man,” Rodriguez admitted. Heading back home, “I told myself I wasn’t gonna get too down on it. I still got the victory. My plan was to continue fighting, riding that Contender Series victory.”
The goal, back on the regional scene, was to take only championship fights, racking up title fights off the exposure he’d gained. “Fought one fight and I got the call on on on short notice against Tim Means. I was in no position to say no to the UFC. I know I had to step up to the opportunity and so going into that fight I was willing to leave it all, everything I got in the cage.”
So where do we go from here? With a couple of wins in the UFC, things are looking up. For Rodriguez, it sounds like he just wants to stay busy.
“I’m 33, I feel like I’m in my prime so I’m ready to just keep the ball rolling, man, because I just love to fight. This is what I do,” he said. “Since coming into the UFC, it’s become my job, full time job and I take my job seriously. Being in the UFC, I respect the sport 100%. I respect every fighter and as long as they show me some respect, it’s gonna be on all-respect levels.”
Rodrgiuez went on to call even fighting right now — at a time when there’s more video game competitions than real sports in action — an honor. “I know I’m being watched by the whole world right now. To pull off a victory is just a blessing.”