After suffering a loss in his first UFC fight in April of 2018 to Devin Clark, light-heavyweight Mike Rodriguez knew that he couldn’t start of his career with the promotion with two straight losses as he headed into his next bout versus Adam Milstead this past December at UFC on FOX 31.
Thankfully for Rodriguez, he was able to rebound off the loss to Clark and pick up a first round TKO of Milstead to even out his UFC record at 1-1.
“That (Milstead) fight went as perfectly as it possibly could,” Rodriguez told MMAWeekly.com. “I had a lot of fire under my ass. If I didn’t win that fight there was the potential that I could possibly be cut. I felt like I was on the chopping block.
“I came out with there with some extra gusto. It went perfectly. All my shots I needed to land were there. I was really relaxed. It was the perfect fight.”
Having been waiting all of 2019 to get back into the cage, Rodriguez has had ample time to work on his game, which he feels has grown leaps and bounds.
“Since (the fight with Milstead) I’ve been training and trying to get better and plug the holes in my game, and continue to strive for greatness,” said Rodriguez. “I think I’m in a really good spot with my training and my game.
“I feel like I’ve gotten tremendously better since the last time I fought. I’ve kept growing and learning new things and getting outside of my comfort zone. I feel like my game has grown so much.”
On Saturday in Sacramento, Calif., Rodriguez (10-3) will look for his second promotional win when he takes on Gian Villante (17-11) in a 205-pound preliminary bout at UFC on ESPN+ 13.
“Gian is really good, very game, and he always shows up to fight,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a veteran who has been around forever.
“I think my skillset will be the big key to the win. All the things I do best is what he’s not strong at. I feel like I’ll definitely put him away by the second round.”
For the second half of 2019, Rodriguez has a good idea of where he’d like to take things before year’s end.
“I would say I’m a benchmark guy,” said Rodriguez. “I always do things according to benchmark.
“The first benchmark is winning this fight on July 13. The second benchmark is just getting better the majority of the summer and spend time with the kids and whatnot, then if I have another training camp after that, and take on whoever they put in front of me.”
Tune in to MMAWeekly.com on Saturday, July 13, for full UFC on ESPN+ 13: de Randamie vs. Ladd live results. Former featherweight champion Germaine de Randamie continues her pursuit for a bantamweight title shot, as she squares off with Aspen Lass in the main event. The UFC on ESPN+ 13 co-main event in Sacramento, Calif., features UFC Hall of Famer Urijah Faber coming out of retirement to test himself against Ricky Simon in front of his hometown crowd.