Ufc 290
Photo Credit: Inside Sport

New FSM Preview: UFC 290 – Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodríguez


International Fight Week caps off in the T-Mobile Arena with a stacked card at UFC 290! Saturday.

UFC 290 – Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodríguez caps off International Fight Week

The UFC’s 11th annual International Fight Week is here, with multiple events throughout Las Vegas. The week-long celebration of MMA concludes Saturday, July 8th, with a fight card full of elite matchups at T-Mobile Arena. The card at UFC 290 is set to be one of the best cards of the year, with a main event set to answer some of the biggest questions surrounding the hardest division in the UFC. Headlining the night, the king of featherweights returns to the division to defend his belt as Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski faces Yair “El Pantera” Rodríguez for the 145-pound title.

Let’s preview UFC 290 – Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodríguez

  The Featherweight Division Beckons for it’s King    

UFC 290 – Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodríguez

UFC 290 - Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodríguez
Photo Credit: YouTube

Volkanovski has been nothing short of dominant as the Featherweight champion, but that dominance might be getting in the way of the Champ’s bigger aspirations.

Saturday night’s main event will be the first time we see Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski (25-2-0) since his first loss in the UFC back in February of 2023. The loss came after Volkanovski moved up to lightweight to face the current Champ, Islam Makhachev, in an attempt to secure a second-division title and earn the status of “Champ-Champ.”

Despite an impressive performance by Volkanovski, the Australian native came up short as Makhachev secured a unanimous decision from the judges to retain the strap. Volkanovski expressed his disapproval of the decision and made it known that he planned to earn his way back to a rematch with Makhachev for another shot for the lightweight title.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see the drive Volkanovski has for securing the belt of another division. The title of “Champ-Champ” is rare, with only four other fighters in UFC history ever to obtain it. If the current longest-reigning UFC champion were to secure a second belt and dominate two different divisions at the same time, it could put Volkanovski in the discussion as not just the greatest featherweight of all time but possibly the greatest MMA fighter in the history of the sport; regardless of division.

But before Volkanovski can continue to chase the title at lightweight, the featherweight champion’s first division requires his attention first.

During Volkanovski’s absence, the featherweight division has experienced a fast turnaround with a new crop of young and dangerous 145-pounders rising in the ranks. In their most recent performances, fighters like Arnold Allen (#4 ranked featherweight) and Ilia Topuria (#5 ranked featherweight) showed plenty of ability and grit to be considered serious contenders. Amongst this new wave of young contenders, the one who stands out as possibly the biggest threat to dethrone Volkanovski will enter the cage with the current champion on Saturday night as the #1 ranked featherweight, Yair “El Pantera” Rodríguez (16-3-0).


UFC 290 - Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodríguez
Photo Credit: Inside Sport

Born in Parral, Chihuahua, Rodríguez leads the way as part of the next generation of great featherweights and the latest wave of Mexican-born UFC champions. Rodríguez came onto the scene as the champion of the 2014 season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America.

With a violent and unpredictable striking game, “El Pantera” proved to be a threat to any 145-pounder after racking off six-straight victories following his debut. Rodríguez’s full skill set was showcased best in his last fight as he faced Josh Emmett for the interim featherweight title. Yair made quick work of the veteran as he submitted Emmett in the second round and became only the second Mexican-born UFC champion in the promotion’s history.

Along with a new crop of young contenders, multiple UFC greats will soon be adding to the stacked featherweight division. The current bantamweight champion, Aljamain Sterling, has stated his plans to move up to featherweight following his final title fight at UFC 291. Like Sterling, former double-champion Henry Cejudo has also expressed his intentions of joining the 145-pound division to compete for his third division title.

With the addition of newcomers and veteran greats, the featherweight division has quickly become the most exciting UFC division calling for its champion to establish order. As UFC 290 takes place this Saturday at T-Mobile Arena, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski will enter the next chapter of his illustrious career.

Whether that chapter will include chasing a new title for rare glory or defending his lone title against a long line of stone-cold killers, it will all hinge on the outcome of the main event of International Fight Week.

Watch UFC 290 – Alexander Volkanovski vs Yair Rodríguez

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-Griffin Kemp – Franchise Sports Media

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