A high-stakes featherweight pairing between top contenders, Zabit Magomedsharipov, and Yair ‘El Pantera’ Rodríguez is in the works to feature at a UFC event on August 29th. – with a location and venue yet to be disclosed by the promotion.
Zabit, one of the most well-rounded challengers to emerge at 145-pounds in recent division memory, will look to remain promotion perfect – following his three-round headliner with Calvin Kattar at UFC Fight Night Moscow last November, where he took a unanimous decision. Rodríguez, on the other hand, secured a unanimous decision win of his own last time out, in a rematch with longtime contender, Jeremy Stephens in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night Boston, also in October.
Speaking with Tass reporter, Igor Lazorin – Zabit’s manager, Rizvan Magomedov revealed how a matchup between his client, and Rodríguez is currently targeted to feature at a UFC event in August.
“There is such a fight in development,” Magomedov said. “They (the UFC) suggested, (Yair) Rodríguez, because (Max) Holloway and (Alexander) Volkanovski will have a second fight, Therefore, we will fight with Yair. A priori (sic) it will be a challenging fight, both fighters in (sic) a good winning streak, the winner will fight for the title.“
Since his promotional bow back in September of 2017, 29-year-old contender, Zabit has amassed a perfect six-fight streak. A rear-naked choke win over Mike Santiago was followed by an anaconda submission of Sheymon Moraes, before he earned Fight of the Night honours opposite, Kyle Bochniak at UFC 223. In a spectacular victory, Zabit bested Brandon Davis with a rare, Suloev stretch – before he also dispatched the above-noted, Stephens.
The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America victor, Rodríguez has kicked off his second run to the featherweight championship with aplomb. In his initial run, the 27-year-old overcame the likes of division prospects, Andre Fili and Charles Rosa, in between a unanimous decision win over then featherweight, Dan Hooker.
Earning a meeting opposite three-time featherweight title challenger, and one-time lightweight gold holder, Frankie Edgar – the Chihuahua native finished Octagon legend, B.J. Penn with a high-kick, followed by strikes. Resulting in his first promotional loss, Rodríguez dropped a doctor’s stoppage to Edgar after some massive ground-and-pound.
In a third Fight of the Night bout of his UFC stint, Rodríguez met with Chan Sung Jung on short-notice at UFC Fight Night Denver back in November of 2018, scoring a bizarre upward-elbow knockout with a single second left in the headliner – in a bout he was losing on all three judges’ scorecards.
An August pairing with Zabit will mark the third such occasion this meeting has been matched. Rodríguez and the promotion were involved in a public negotiation fallout back in May of 2018, when he was momentarily released from his UFC contract, in which he is believed to have declined fights with Zabit, and Ricardo Lamas. At UFC 228 in September of 2018, Zabit and Rodríguez were finally scheduled to clash, until the latter was forced from the tie after he suffered an injury.