Having closed out 2017 on an eight-fight winning streak, veteran Ray Rodriguez was looking to make 2019 his breakout year, but things didn’t end up going as expected.
Following an injury and a last minute fight cancellation, Rodriguez has found himself on the shelf for the entirety of the year, looking to get back into action since the first time since last December.
“I had a little shoulder injury in March,” Rodriguez told MMAWeekly.com. “I dislocated my shoulder so it took me time to rehab it and get it back to where I needed it to be and be back at 100 percent. It took me about two months to get back from that.
“After that I was getting ready for a fight in September, but about two weeks before the fight my opponent dropped out. So it’s been since December since my last fight.”
Having been 10 months since he last saw competition, Rodriguez feels like he will show a different game next time out compared to when he last fought.
“Every time I step into the cage I try to redefine myself and get better every single time,” said Rodriguez. “I’m trying to get better every single day and am trying to improve. You’ll definitely see a brand new Ray Rodriguez in this next fight.”
At LFA 52 on Friday in Belton, Texas, Rodriguez (13-4) finally returns to action when he faces Chris Gutierrez (11-2-1) in the bantamweight main event.
“He seems like a pretty decent stand-up guy who throws a lot of kicks,” Rodriguez said of Gutierrez. “He keeps his distance quite a bit, and it shows when people get up in his face he’s not necessarily the strongest opponent.
“I haven’t gotten to fight somebody who has wanted to stand with me in a long time. Usually guys want to try to take me down as soon as they get hit, so I’m looking forward to having a good stand-up showcase on October 19.”
Now that he’s back to fighting after such a long layoff, Rodriguez intends to close out 2018 as busily as he possibly can.
“My goal is to get in two more fights this year,” said Rodriguez. “I want to get this one in for October and then another one in November or December.
“I’ll be ready to go for sure. I’m always in shape and am ready to fight all the time. I recently opened my own academy here in San Antonio, so I’m always on the go constantly and am keeping everything sharp.”