Rodriguez knows he’s fighting a Legend

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Only three fighters have won UFC belts in two weight divisions – Conor McGregor, Randy Couture, and BJ Penn. The Natural is retired and Notorious is out until May when he and longtime partner Dee Devlin are expecting their first child.

The Prodigy fights on Sunday at UFC Fight Night 103, and opponent Yair Rodriguez knows he is fighting a legend. When Penn made his UFC debut, Rodriguez was eight.

“Well, you’ve got to do it one way or another,” said a laughing Rodriguez to Thomas Gerbasi for UFC.com. “If you go into the fight thinking he is a legend, then he will kick your ass if you respect him too much. You have to fight him as any other guy. I always see my opponents as the best opponent at that time, the best fighter in the world, so I prepare for the best all the time. And I don’t care who’s in front of me, I will be prepared for him.”

“One of the first videos was a highlight of him jumping out of a pool during training. I didn’t fight MMA yet, but I was trying to, and he was one of my motivations and one of the guys I used to look up to in the beginning.”

“The UFC really changed my life. … I feel really blessed to have the opportunity to help out my family and my friends. This is a lot of motivation for kids coming out of Mexico and Latin America because I come from a tough place. It’s good for me to be a motivation for them now because I know I can change lives.”

“I’ve been in [combat] sport since I was five years old. My parents taught me good, life taught me hard. … In life, you’re born a warrior, you’re born a fighter, and even more if you’re born in a tough place. I cannot complain, I’m still alive, but you see stuff that not many people get to see every day, so you just have to be smart about the way you handle yourself, and then you’ll be good.

“I know I’m a champion. I was born a champion. Once you’re born a champion, you can’t do anything about changing your future. I accepted this already, I know I’m good at what I do and I’m just saying it in the humblest way that I can. Nobody’s gonna stop me.”