Las Vegas, NV — In case you were wondering, no, Daniel Rodriguez did not have any time to prepare for his fight with Li Jingliang at UFC 279.
Rodriguez earned a split decision win over the Chinese welterweight, in a 180lb catchweight bout necessitated by Khamzat Chimaev missing weight. Rodriguez’s original opponent, Kevin Holland, wound up fighting Chimaev, while “D-Rod” got Jingliang.
“There was no preparation for this guy at all. I mean I barely had preparation for Holland,” Rodriguez (17-2) told media outlets including Cageside Press following the card. “But like I said all the time, I really don’t have any preparation for any of my opponents. I just train really, really hard. Last minute switch-up there was definitely no preparation, we just knew that he hit hard. We just went out there, and just stuck to the plan.”
Rodriguez wasn’t even certain on Friday that Jingliang would take the fight, given the weight discrepancy between them.
“I wasn’t sure that he was going to take the fight considering that I did weight in 9 pounds heavier than him,” Rodriguez admitted. “But when he did I was happy that he accepted the fight. I’ve been looking to fight for, it’s been a while — I’m coming off a year layoff. And against an opponent like that, it was a crazy situation, but like I said before, I’ll fight anybody. That’s why I stepped up to fight [Kevin] Holland and why I stepped up to fight this guy.”
The Holland fight itself had come on short notice, and it’s one that the UFC had attempted to make before. Fans would no doubt love to see it, but the pair find themselves in very different circumstances following UFC 279.
“That was interesting to see moving forward, because I won my fight and obviously he lost. That puts us in different areas, me climbing up the ranks with Li being ranked #11, so I’m interested to see where I sit at in the rankings. I just want to keep climbing. It doesn’t even matter if it’s a ranked opponent who’s next or not,” said Rodriguez, before adding “It changes a little bit that he lost and I won.”
Rodriguez, however, had been looking forward to putting the Holland fight behind him before it fell through for the second time.
“This fight with him was supposed to just kind of get past it. This was the second time already I’ve been scheduled with him and it doesn’t happen. All the trash talk back and forth is just getting old, I want to get just get that sh*t over with already. But yeah like I said, me winning and him losing changes things. I’m moving forward, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Watch the full UFC 279 post-fight press conference with Daniel Rodriguez above.