Recently heads were turned throughout MMA by the news the UFC has apparently cut rising featherweight, Yair Rodriguez. Bellator’s Scott Coker, however, believes there must be more to the story than what we’ve heard. Could he be right? Maybe?
Recently UFC boss man Dana White reportedly told the L.A. Times that Rodriguez was going to battle Zabit Magomedsharipov at the August 4th card in that city. That news didn’t surprise any really, since Zabit had called for the bout. But, not long after, Rodriguez tweeted out #FakeNews.
Well, more recently, White informed the L.A. Times that Rodriguez has been let go, after he apparently turned down the Magomedsharipov bout. A fired up White was quoted saying Rodriguez has also turned down a fight with Ricardo Lamas, and that he can “go somewhere else”, as a result.
Since the headline grabbing news, MMA Junkie caught up with Coker, and the Bellator President acknowledged that they’d be interested in Rodriguez, provided he really is a free agent now. In addition, Coker said this:
“It could’ve been an emotional outburst and they say, ‘Hey, we want you back.’ You never know,” Coker said, before noting, “There must be more to it than we know. But that’s their business, and we’ll let them deal with it.”
“He’s a tough kid. I will say this: Anybody that’s a free agent that is a top-10 (fighter) or top contender, we’re going to have a conversation with everybody – any weight class. If you’re the guy, and you’re a free agent, we’re going to have a conversation.”
Now, due to the highlight reel abilities of Rodriguez, and because he’s only 25, others have certainly made similar comments to Coker. Why would the UFC let go of such a promising fighter, solely because he turned down two different fights that were tabled? Unless something’s transpired behind the scenes to sour the relationship between the promotion and “Pantera”.
Well, that very well could be the case. But, it’s certainly not a stretch either that Rodriguez was released, just because he turned down the offers. Further, the “#FakeNews” tweet clearly didn’t sit well with White, who, after confirming the fighter’s release, tweeted out “Real News”.
Recently we’ve seen more and more fighters relay they’re not interested in certain bouts the UFC’s offered, and do so publicly. That wasn’t something we saw very regularly, if at all, several years ago. While Rodriguez is a rising force at 145, he is coming off a decisive loss to Frankie Edgar, and he isn’t a big, mainstream draw yet. So, when you can’t influence consumers in the way say Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz or Georges St-Pierre can, then, the UFC doesn’t have to be very accommodating. Especially in a sport where there is no collective means to protect your spot on the roster.
So, could there be more to this story? Sure. But we could very well have all the facts too.