Since his debut back in February of 2020, UFC welterweight, Daniel Rodriguez’s (15-2) journey in the organization has been anything but normal. Having amassed a record of 5-1 under the UFC banner, four of those fights were changed due to issues with his opponent or him stepping in for someone. “I feel like my first year in the UFC was pretty much based off that and that was why I was able to fight so much,” said Rodriguez. “And I guess that’s the reason I’m able to fight so much now is that I’m always ready to step up and I never really get out of shape. I’m always, for the most part, ready to go.”
And in Rodriguez-like fashion, he will step up again on three weeks’ notice this Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Chikadze to face former UFC lightweight, Kevin Lee in his first fight in the welterweight division. Lee was originally slated to face Sean Brady and although Lee was never on the radar of Rodriguez, he was more than happy to take the fight. “I remember there were times that I was at the BMF Ranch and Cowboy wanted to fight him and I would be thinking, ‘I could fight that guy, I could beat him,’” explained Rodriguez. “So, this time around the opportunity came up and I was like, ‘I’m in the UFC, I’m a welterweight, he’s a welterweight and that’s what it is.”
That anytime-anywhere mentality has caught the eye and gained many new fans of Rodriguez and he attributes that way of fighting and living to his Latin upbringing and was highly motivated by a recent big win by another face of UFC Latino fighters. “Its huge man,” said Rodriguez. “Brandon Moreno winning the championship is huge because me growing up a Latino, our family functions were watching boxing, Tyson or Chavez or Mayweather, that’s how I grew up watching these fights.” And with Moreno paving the way, the California native with roots in Mexico sees himself next up to the plate to carry the crown. “I think that you know, Latinos in the UFC, there’s not really a lot,” explained Rodriguez. “So, Brandon Moreno being champ is really opening up Mexico’s eyes to the UFC and mixed martial arts. He’s a first generation of Mexican champions and I’m next.”
A win over Lee this weekend could catapult the career of Rodriguez even further and faster than it has been going. And he sees this fight going similar to his last. “I can see this fight going a lot like the Perry fight, you know,” said Rodriguez. “Kevin Lee hasn’t been looking to great these last fights, so this is really nothing special. He’s not an amazing striker, so it’s just going to come down to me stuffing his takedown and breaking his spirit.”
Daniel Rodriguez will face Kevin Lee at UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Chikadze, Saturday, August 28th on ESPN.
Image compliments of Zuffa, LLC and Getty Images.