UFC featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski to defend title against Yair Rodriguez on July 8

Alexander Volkanovski might have missed out on the UFC lightweight championship, but he still has a featherweight belt to defend.

The Australian fighter will face UFC interim featherweight champion Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290 on July 8, according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. No contracts have reportedly been signed, but both fighters have verbally agreed to a title unification bout held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Volkanovski is coming off a failed attempt to capture a rare double-belt status, losing to UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev at UFC 284 in February. The loss by unanimous decision was his first UFC loss, but was still an impressive performance against an opponent who just had an answer to each challenge Volkanovski presented.

The fight left Volkanovski and Makhachev dueling for pound-for-pound king status on most rankings, though Jon Jones has since taken the top spot with his heavyweight title win.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 12: Alexander Volkanovski of Australia prepares to fight Islam Makhachev of Russia in the UFC lightweight championship fight during the UFC 284 event at RAC Arena on February 12, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Alexander Volkanovski missed out on the lightweight belt, but he’ll still be a challenge for Yair Rodriguez. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Against Rodriguez, Volkanovski will be making his fifth featherweight title defense, having defeated former champ Max Holloway twice, Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung. He has held the belt since beating Holloway for the first time on Dec. 14, 2019.

Rodriguez won the right to challenge Volkanovski by defeating Josh Emmett for the interim title at UFC 284, the same event Volkanovski faced Makhachev. The Mexican fighter has taken only one loss, against Holloway, in his last six fights and currently holds a 15-3-1 record.

Also competing at UFC 290 will be rising middleweight star Bo Nickal, who announced last month he will face Tresean Gore after an impressive but mildly controversial debut.

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