While my other breakdowns have been pretty enjoyable, this fight is one that every hardcore and casual fight fan has been keeping their eyes on. Frankie Edgar versus Yair Rodriguez is a battle of old school versus new school. Does the old dog have some new tricks to throw the pup off his game or will the young hungry cub prove himself to be a world beater.
Anyone who has seen a Frankie Edgar fight knows what to expect from the former lightweight champ. There will be punches in bunches, there will be wrestling exchanges, and, quite possibly, Edgar being hurt by a heavy shot yet surviving. While it’s something that many Frankie Edgar fans may not want to admit, the man has been hurt a great deal of times during his career. Does that mean his chin is going? Not necessarily. Does that mean there’s deficiencies in his striking game? Most certainly.
Frankie Edgar will be susceptible to kicks in this fight and he’ll need to keep things in boxing range where he can land flurries and damaging punches.
If Edgar wants to win this fight, he’ll have to make things dirty. Playing the outside angle with Rodriguez is ill advised. Yair Rodriguez wants to kick and kick often. Edgar needs to use his lateral movement a bit smarter here and close the distance every chance he gets. Pumping the jab, getting off center, pivoting back to center and throwing a cross or kick to close distance is his best option to get close to Rodriguez. Once he’s there, he’d be smart to pick up a single leg rather than reach for a double. It’s potentially a faster entry and he can use it to either transition to the double or force Rodriguez to the cage where he can disengage to throw short combinations, battle in the clinch, or work for a strong takedown.
Yair Rodriguez is a member of the new school of young talent who utilizes a traditional striking game to get the job done in his fights. The thing about his style that sets him apart from say a Stephen Thompson or Justin Scoggins is his wild streak. Rodriguez throws a myriad of different strikes, a lot of times with no initial set up except for feints or the occasional jab. He thrives in chaos and so far it’s worked well for him.
The problem there is that with such a kick heavy game, the chances of him getting taken down is extremely high, especially a fighter with such a strong wrestling game like Frankie Edgar.
What Yair Rodriguez is going to want to do in this fight is keep Edgar at a distance. Much like the flyweight bout between Henry Cejudo and Sergio Pettis, Rodriguez as the kicker is going to want to operate at a longer distance. Rather than follow his usual game plan of throwing everything and the kitchen sink at his opponents, low kicks to the calf, front snap kicks to the body and head, as well as side kicks, will keep Edgar at bay until Rodriguez can throw something more meaningful, preferably up the middle. As shown before, Frankie Edgar has an open guard at times on the feet so Rodriguez would do well to time his opponents lateral movement and have him walk into something devastating.
It’s truly an interesting fight that is all about distance. Whoever controls the distance best will get their hand raised.