A featherweight pairing between top contenders, Yair ‘El Pantera’ Rodríguez, and Zabit Magomedsharipov has once more fallen to the wayside – at the second-time of trying. The two elite 145-pound strikers were scheduled to finally meet on August 29th. at UFC Fight Night Vegas – taking headlining honours in the process.
Once more missing out on the fan-favourite pairing with Zabit, Taekwondo black belt, Rodríguez has been forced from the tie, after he suffered an ankle injury in preparation for the main event clash. UFC president, Dana White confirmed and commented on the injury status of Rodríguez, following the Contender Series return last night.
“Yeah, (Rodríguez is out),” White explained. “He had a high ankle sprain and a fracture. So, he’s out. We’re looking for a replacement.“
In terms of potential replacements, a rematch between Zabit and surging recent feature, Calvin Kattar has been floated by the Boston native’s manager, Tyson Chartier. Zabit and Kattar initially met last November in the headiner of UFC Fight Night Moscow, with the former taking a close unanimous decision win in a short-notice three-round curtain closer.
That outing served at Zabit’s most recent – adding Kattar to a winning résumé which includes the likes of Jeremy Stephens, Brandon Davis, Sheymon Moraes, and a memorable three round back-and-forth with Kyle Bockniak.
For Rodríguez, he’s yet to feature since his co-main event win over the aforenoted, Stephens in a October re-run at UFC Fight Night Boston. The 27-year-old Chihuahua born striker made his Octagon return in November of 2018 – taking a buzzer beating upward elbow knockout of one-time title challenger, Chan Sung Jung, in a matchup he was losing on all three judge’s scorecards.
Zabit and Rodríguez were originally slated to meet at UFC 228 in September 2018 – but the Mexico native was forced from that bout similarly, after he suffered an injury in August. The creative striker was involved in a public negotiation fallout with the UFC prior to the matchup, where he was momentarily released from his contract before reaching terms with the promotion.
During his five year stint under the UFC’s banner, Rodríguez has managed notable victories over Andre Fili, lightweight contender, Dan Hooker, Alex Caceres, submission threat, Charles Rosa, and former 155-pound and 170-pound gold holder, B.J. Penn.