With champion Alexander Volkanovski defeating former titleholder Max Holloway for the third time at UFC 276 on July 2, and defeating Ortega in Ortega’s last outing, the top of the 145-pound division is wide open for a new challenger.
According to Rodriguez, he was told that if he defeats Ortega that he’ll earn a title shot.
“Yes. That has been said to me,” Rodriguez said during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “First things first. I’m going to win this fight and give the champ some time to heal and go for it.”
Rodriguez and Ortega are friends. Rodriguez is from Mexico and Ortega is Mexican-American. The only way they wanted to fight each other was if it were for a title, or to earn a title shot.
“We didn’t want to fight each other unless we had to. Now, it’s an opportunity for one of us. We have to fight each other,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not the opponent I wanted, but the opportunity I wanted and here we are facing each other for this big opportunity.”