Though his lone fight in 2019 up to this point resulted in a loss, light-heavyweight Mike Rodriguez feels like he’s made progress with his game this year. Heading into Saturday’s UFC Busan, he sees the positive side of how things have been going so far.
Though a case could be made for how Rodriguez lost his fight to John Allan at UFC on ESPN+ 13 in July, Rodriguez accepts the loss and has used it as a learning tool for the second half of his year.
“It’s been a lot of training, and that’s been pretty good,” Rodriguez told MMAWeekly.com. “I definitely got better training-wise. I got really better.
“A lot of people are like, ‘(Allan’s) a cheater this, he’s a cheater that,’ but at the end of the day he still won the fight. You take the cheating out, he still won the fight. I grew off of the mistakes I made in the fight and I just decrease the chance I make those mistakes in another fight.”
For Rodriguez, the changes he’s made to his skillset and physical game have been small incremental ones, with the biggest alteration he’s made in 2019 going into his mindset and how he approaches fights.
“It’s little things that I’m working on that make me better,” said Rodriguez. “It’s little things to create the picture better. You can’t make crazy monumental changes in such short time. Mainly the chance of mindset is really big.
“My last fight I fought so tensely, and that’s why I think I made a lot of mistakes in that one. This (next) fight I wanted to be more relaxed, and I wanted my training camp to be more relaxed.”
On Saturday in Busan, South Korea, Rodriguez (10-4) will look to get back on track when he faces Da Un Jung (12-2) in a UFC on ESPN+ 23 main card light heavyweight bout.
“I feel like I have to fight exchange by exchange and not like think like I’m going to go out there and smoke this guy,” Rodrigues said of facing Jung. “He’s a really good counter-fighter. He shows up and dude definitely knows how to fight. That’s the best way to fight this fight: one exchange at a time.”
Even though 2020 just weeks away, Rodriguez is not one to plan too much into the future. For now his focus is on December 21 and not much else.
“I just go one at a time,” said Rodriguez. “I try to be in the moment as much as possible. I don’t want to rush things or anything like that.”