By JEFF HELMINIAK
Adrian Yanez of Texas defeated Soldotna’s Victor Rodriguez by technical knockout 2:46 into the first round Saturday at a UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Yanez, 12-3 and fresh off a win in Dana White’s Contender Series, stopped Rodriguez, 7-3, with a head kick.
Seth Stacey, Rodriguez’s coach, gave credit to Yanez for a fantastic performance while still holding Rodriguez in high esteem.
“He’s pretty much my hero, man,” Stacey said of Rodriguez. “Anybody that can go through everything he went through in the last two weeks and go into a fight with a guy that skilled and face him with integrity has my respect. Even after he got head kicked, he still tried to fight.”
Rodriguez, 28, signed a four-fight deal with UFC on Oct. 20, giving him little time to prep for Yanez. Stacey said the days before the fight were filled with paperwork, medical exams, travel, doping tests, COVID-19 tests and then a quarantine in the hotel.
“I take full responsibility for the loss,” Stacey said. “He did everything I asked him to do in there. The way he performed respresented his team, Soldotna and the state of Alaska at the highest level.”
Stacey said Rodriguez still earned respect, despite the loss. According to Stacey, Yanez said Rodriguez belonged after the fight. Stacey also said Alexander Hernandez, who also won Saturday, also told Stacey that Rodriguez has all the tools. He just must start training with better fighters.
The next step for Rodriguez would be to train at The Huntington Beach Ultimate Training Center in California. The center is owned by Tiki Ghosn, Rodriguez’s agent. There, Rodriguez will find top-notch fighters with which to train.
“After the KO, there was no talk in any shape or fashion of quitting,” Stacey said. “It just didn’t go the way we hoped it would go.”
Stacey said Rodriguez was able to spend time with his girlfriend after the fight as well as his son, who traveled from California.
“I’m proud of the journey we made for him to be a pro fighter in a great organization at the highest level,” Stacey said. “He’s expressed the desire to develop more skill and be the best he can be.”