It’s time for the main event. On one side: Yair Rodriguez, who’s 4-0 in the UFC, but took Andre Fili out so spectacularly with a flying head-kick in April that he’s earned marquee status. On the other side: Alex Caceres, a TUF vet who’s had mixed results in the UFC, but whose high-flying striking style seems tailor-made to produce something magical when pitted against someone like Rodriguez. Yup-yup.
Caceres draws first blood with probing kicks and a leaping punch that elicits a smile from Rodriguez. Rodriguez gets in the game with kicks and punches of his own, and in no time they’re pecking at each other with spinning kicks sudden changes in direction that are punctuated by fists to the face. For the briefest of moments Caceres latches on for a takedown, and Rodriguez counters by rolling into a leglock attempt before they disengage and resume their crazy kung fu fight. By the waning seconds of the round Rodriguez’s combinations involve too many wild kicks and spinning techniques for Caceres to counter, and the horn sounds with the Mexican likely ahead.
Remember Mortal Kombat and how Chun-Li would turn upside down and spin around like a helicopter? That’s Rodriguez in the second, and the constant pressure has “Bruce Leeroy” almost turning and running just to get some space. Caceres tags him a few times in the face, but he’s fighting a losing battle until Rodriguez slows down.
Hey, what do you know, Rodriguez starts to slow down in Round 3, which, while he still is able to kick first and land punches, enables Caceres to nail him with some stifling flurries. In the final minute Rodriguez tries to roll into a heelhook, but Caceres avoids it, settles into his opponent’s guard, and drops heavy leather.
Rodriguez is all about the jumping sidekick to the lead leg, which is meant to prevent Caceres from setting himself. It works, and Caceres doesn’t really start scoring until the final two minutes of Round 4 when he begins stepping in with his punches.
They bro hug to begin the fifth round, and after some brief trading the clinch against the fence. Rodriguez breaks free, scores with knees, scores with high-kicks and punches, and Caceres gets a takedown. Rodriguez uses a heelkook attempt to scramble up and get a takedown of his own, and then they’re back up. The rest of the bout has Rodriguez just throwing everything but the kitchen sink, while Caceres is too tired to do more than throw single punches.
Result: Yair Rodriguez def. Alex Caceres via Split Decision