UFC

Yair Rodríguez practiced fight-finishing elbow ahead of Korean Zombie KO

Yair Rodríguez says he’d seen the elbow he used to drop Korean Zombie but wasn’t able to nail it in camp.

Yair Rodríguez is coming off the biggest win of his career — a KO victory over Chan Sung Jung aka “Korean Zombie” at UFC Denver that saw one of the greatest comebacks in the promotion’s history. Rodríguez landed a perfectly placed up elbow to drop Jung with just one second remaining in the bout. Neither man could stand after the five-round war and the crowd sat in shock from the slick buzzer-beating moment.

“Of course that elbow wasn’t planned at all,” Rodríguez told FanSided. “I actually saw that elbow one time, a long time ago on the ranch with Cowboy Cerrone and my Muay Thai coach [and I] couldn’t place it. We couldn’t put it together but I was throwing a lot of elbows before that fight because I know Korean Zombie opens up a lot and you know when I was moving my head, in those 30 [seconds] before the fight ends, you can see that I do some head movement. I never thought that I was going to land that elbow but I saw the opportunity and I just took the shot and it landed. That’s what happens when you are fighting and you decide to use every weapon you have and you don’t close your [mind] to the opportunity.”

Now, heading into his next challenge, a headling bout with Jeremy Stephens at UFC Mexico City, one might think the pressure of a main event in Mexico, plus the need to follow up such a fantastic finish could be a stumbling block for Rodríguez. He assured us, that’s not the case.

“I understand in this sport that there are ups and downs,” he said. “You cannot always perform the same. I’m always looking to perform better but obviously that cannot happen all the time so I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I don’t really think about pressure, I just focus on what’s here right now, talking to you, I’m not focused on the fight or any of that. I learned, those two weeks before my last fight that I have to think about nothing but the present moment. If you are able to do that, if you can learn that, you will perform good no matter what. I just want to push myself really hard, because I was just focused on the moment. I feel really really happy for this opportunity and I am really happy with myself.  I’m really proud of myself no matter what happens.”

This will be the first time back in the Octagon for Rodríguez since November 2018, and he feels the time off was exactly what he needed after the war with Jung.

“You have to remember that I took that fight on short notice,” he says. “I had only two weeks and my health wasn’t the best, not a lot of people know that. I learned a lot about myself during those two weeks. After the fight I took my time to clear my head, rest, get my nose operated on because I broke it in the fight and my body needed it. I understand that I have a life after this so I took the time to relax.”

Rodríguez was reluctant to give an exact prediction, seeing as he wants to live in the moment, but he did give us a bit of a hint.

“It can go lots of different ways,” he said. “I think [Stephens] is dangerous, really powerful and really ready and I’ll be careful with his punches.”

UFC Mexico City takes place on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, live from the Mexico City Arena, Mexico City, Mexico. Follow along with FanSided MMA for all your live results and highlights.