Kleydson Rodrigues: Controversy in the Rearview

Kleydson Rodrigues does not yet have his feet fully underneath him in the Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight division—a situation he hopes to remedy in his latest assignment.

The former Jungle Fight champion will do battle with Shannon Ross as part of the UFC 284 undercard on Saturday at the RAC Arena in Perth, Australia, where he aims to nail down his first victory inside the Octagon. Rodrigues made his promotional debut on May 7, when he wound up on the wrong side of contentious split decision against C.J. Vergara at UFC 274.

“The fight against Vergara was very close,” he told Sherdog.com. “A lot of folks didn’t agree with the results.”

Rodrigues outlanded the onetime Fury Fighting Championship titleholder 81-71 in terms of significant strikes and accounted for the only two completed takedowns in the bout. However, Vergara was credited with more control time and connected with more total strikes. All three judges struck 29-28 scorecards: Junichiro Kamijo for Rodrigues, Eric Colon and Eric Curcio for Vergara.

“Without taking any credit away from him, I do believe I won,” Rodrigues said. “He landed hard shots. Plus, he was fighting at home and was trying not to lose two a row. I think I should have fought with more hunger, so I could have gotten a finish. I had a chance to take his back, and I almost landed a leglock. Next time, it won’t go to the judges.”

Nine months have passed since his encounter with Vergara—and not entirely by choice. Rodrigues was scheduled to face Vinicius Salvador at UFC Fight Night 213 in October. However, Salvador withdrew, necessitating a change in opponent to Cody Durden. Eventually, Rodrigues was forced to bow out with a hand injury, leading to a lengthy layoff.

“When I was about to fly on fight week, I ended up hurting my hand,” the Team Nogueira export said. “I didn’t break it, but it was very painful. It was my strong hand, my right. My team and I got together and agreed that I should not fight. I couldn’t risk losing because of it.”

Now fully recovered, Rodrigues sets his sights on Ross. The 33-year-old Australian has rattled off five victories across his past seven appearances. He last competed in August, when he succumbed to second-round punches from the aforementioned Salvador on Dana White’s Contender Series.

“He is very aggressive,” Rodrigues said. “He likes to bang it out and knock people out. My strategy will be to nullify his game. I also have good striking, in addition to several other weapons I can deploy against him.”
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