UFC Vegas 42: Max Holloway Battles Yair Rodriguez to a Decision

Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez, UFC Vegas 42
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 13: (R-L) Max Holloway kicks Yair Rodriguez of Mexico in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez put on a show in the main event of UFC Vegas 42, going to war for 25 minutes.

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, than fight fans would no doubt be in love with UFC Vegas 42’s main event. Max Holloway and Yair Rodriguez had been paired up over the summer, only for the fight to be pushed back. But beyond that, Rodriguez had been out of action over two years, not seen since his second fight with Jeremy Stephens in October 2019.

Holloway himself was competing on Saturday for the first time since his January dismantling of featherweight contender Calvin Kattar — and his return was equally anticipated.

Quickly to start the fight, Yair found himself on his back briefly after a kick attempt. Yair returned to his feet and landed a solid right hand but was caught by a beautiful punch from Holloway that snapped his head back. Rodriguez was going to his kicks very often, battering the legs of Holloway. He then went up high and landed a high kick as well as a few body kicks. After the head kick, Holloway fired back with a two punch combination that landed hard on Rodriguez. Rodriguez then initiated a clinch and nearly got a takedown, but separated and threw a flying knee, ending up on his own back. A few upkicks caught Holloway, ending a strong first round for Rodriguez.

A leg kick came in right away from Rodriguez and Holloway answered with a body punch. Rodriguez doubled up on the jab and followed with a right hand. Holloway chased down Rodriguez and landed a two punch combination. More leg kicks connected for Rodriguez as Holloway answered with a left hand. The leg kicks continued to add up for Rodriguez and he also landed an upward elbow. Holloway then started mixing in body shots and a knee to the body that seemed to do damage. The end of the round came soon after.

Holloway’s corner told him that Rodriguez was beginning to fade and Holloway listened. He immediately pressured Rodriguez against the fence with a flying knee and took him down off a Rodriguez kick. Holloway started to unleash ground and pound and was hunting for submissions. Rodriguez held strong and got back to his feet. Immediately, Rodriguez threw a combination and landed a takedown, but Holloway returned to his feet and landed a takedown of his own to close out the third round.

Holloway started the fourth with slick combination, but as he’s shown throughout the fight, Rodriguez was not going anywhere. Holloway pressured and went for a standing guillotine, taking Rodriguez to the ground. Holloway gained side control after some scrambling from Rodriguez. The former champion moved to back control and Rodriguez got to his feet eating a few knees to the head as punishment. Both men traded flying knees as Rodriguez focused on his kicking attack at the end of the fourth.

The fighters hugged at the start of the final round and Rodriguez fired a great combination to kick things off. Holloway answered with a string of strikes of his own. A rolling thunder kick from Rodriguez connected but Rodriguez ended up on his back. Holloway got top position, but was quickly reversed by Rodriguez. Holloway had to fight off a guillotine to get to his feet, where he landed a knee to the body. A poke in the eye from Rodriguez slowed the final round down, but they got right back to it when action resumed. Holloway clinched his way to a victory to close the last 15 seconds.

Max Holloway def. Yair Rodriguez by Unanimous Decision (48-47 x2, 49-46)