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Former UFC champ Max Holloway outlasts Yair Rodriguez

Yair Rodriguez came out from the opening bell looking as if he was trying to make up for lost time in his first fight in more than two years Saturday at the Apex.

He might have been victorious against anyone but Max Holloway.

The former UFC featherweight champion took control with a big third round on his way to a unanimous decision over Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night 197.

“That’s why people don’t want to fight this guy,” Holloway said of Rodriguez, who is known as a flashy kicker but showcased a full striking repertoire Saturday. “He moves like a boxer, but then he’s kicking and throwing elbows. This guy’s a beast. He’s a warrior.

“Two years and he put up a performance like this.”

Both fighters were transported to a local hospital, sharing a photo on social media from the ambulance they shared.

“Insane,” UFC president Dana White said of the action. “That’s one of the best fights I’ve ever seen, and the fact Yair was off for two years and puts on a performance like that is just crazy.”

Rodriguez came out throwing thunderous calf kicks early, then changed levels with kicks to the body and head. By the end, he had to be helped from the cage and couldn’t put pressure on a mangled and swollen right foot.

Holloway connected with body shots in the second round, then took advantage of position with shots on the ground after a takedown in the third.

Rodriguez started to fade but stayed dangerous. He won the final round on all three cards, a round that saw him try a flipping ax kick, followed by a jump punch as he went to the mat.

“I came really prepared,” Rodriguez said. “Max is just an amazing fighter.”

Also on the card, Marcos Rogerio de Lima won two consecutive fights for the first time in seven years when he knocked out heavyweight Ben Rothwell in 32 seconds.

Andrea Lee put together the most complete performance of her UFC career to beat women’s flyweight contender Cynthia Calvillo. Lee controlled the fight with her jab and constant activity until Calvillo’s corner decided not to send her out for the third round.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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