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Dana White: In a perfect world, Zabit Magomedsharipov vs. Yair Rodriguez is five rounds

LAS VEGAS – Dana White thinks the highly anticipated fight between Zabit Magomedsharipov and Yair Rodriguez should serve as a headliner.

The matchup has been brewing for years, but the two top-ranked featherweights have yet to fight. They’re projected to finally square off this year.

Magomedsharipov (18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) and Rodriguez (13-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) were linked to the UFC’s Aug. 29 headliner, but Rodriguez was forced out due to an ankle injury.

Magomedsharipov accused Rodriguez of not being brave enough to show up, prompting Rodriguez to fire back and tell Magomedsharipov to wait like the “little dog” that he is.

Rodriguez is targeting a return this fall, but no official date has been assigned for their rebooking. Rodriguez wants it to be a five-round fight, and so does White, who says the bout is still being worked on.

“(Tuesday) was matchmaking, and we’re still working on that fight,” White told reporters, including MMA Junkie, after Dana White’s Contender Series 29 in Las Vegas. “We want to do the Yair and Zabit fight, so we’re waiting for Yair to get healed.

“I don’t know how it’s going to end up playing out, but in a perfect world, yes, I would like it to be five rounds.”

Magomedsharipov has looked near flawless in his octagon performances, but continues to draw criticism for his cardio. He has shown a tendency to slow down in fights and his headliner against Calvin Kattar in November 2019 was only three rounds due to the late-notice main event slot. He lost Round 3 on all three judges’ scorecards.

On the other side of the 145-pound bracket, former UFC featherweight title challenger Brian Ortega will look to bounce back from his first-career loss when he takes on the streaking Chan Sung Jung in the UFC’s Oct. 17 main event.

A No. 1 contender is expected to emerge from either one of those pivotal featherweight clashes while champion Alexander Volkanovski waits for his next challenger.

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