Yair Rodriguez admits he ‘doesn’t want to fight’ Brian Ortega at UFC Mexico

Yair Rodriguez has admitted that he does not want to fight Brian Ortega this weekend – just as he felt uneasy about the pair’s first fight.

Rodriguez and Ortega are due to clash in a five-round co-main event on Saturday (24 February), at the UFC Fight Night in Mexico City, 19 months after Rodriguez beat the American via first-round TKO. In that bout, Ortega suffered a shoulder injury in a grappling exchange with the Mexican, which forced the end of the fight.

Rodriguez, 31, went on to submit Josh Emmett in February, winning the interim UFC featherweight title in the process, before suffering a TKO loss to Alexander Volkanovski in July. Saturday’s rematch with Ortega will be Rodriguez’s first fight since failing to unify the belts against Volkanovski, who lost the undisputed title to Ilia Topuria last weekend.

“It’s always weird. I never wanted to fight the guy,” Rodriguez said of Ortega, 33, at Wednesday’s media day. “This time is no different. I like his family, I like him.

“He’s Mexican, so it’s not the same feeling. It’s a job we have to do, not something that I really wanted to do.”

Rodriguez was referring to the fact that Ortega’s parents are both from Mexico. Former title challenger Ortega, who has not fought since his first bout with Rodriguez, also holds Mexican citizenship.

While Rodriguez is not looking forward to his match-up with Ortega, “El Pantera” has expressed a desire to challenge new champion Topuria, who knocked out Volkanovski in round two this month.

“ I would love to f*** him up,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t want to fight him, I want to f*** him up – there’s a f***ing big difference on that, just to make that clear. And anywhere I f***ing see him, I’ll f*** him up.

Rodriguez during his title fight loss to Volkanovski in July (Getty Images)
Rodriguez during his title fight loss to Volkanovski in July (Getty Images)

“F*** this b***h. I don’t f***ing like him. I don’t normally get into this kind of situation with nobody, I’m really respectful, but this f***ing guy, you know... I just don’t really like him.”

Rodriguez first appeared to take issue with Topuria in the days leading up to the Georgian-Spaniard’s title win, as Topuria preemptively changed his social-media bios to “UFC champion”. Topuria, 27, stayed unbeaten with his stoppage of Volkanovski, 35, which made him the first UFC champion to represent Georgia or Spain.

In Saturday’s main event in Mexico City, former flyweight champion Brandon Moreno will fight ex-title challenger Brandon Royval for the second time. The Mexican beat Royval via TKO in 2020, as the American suffered an injury.