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Mike Rodriguez Keeps Building

Contender Series alum Mike Rodriguez said he had to "sew up" his game ahead of UFC Busan.

It’s a fair question. Considering that Mike Rodriguez’ coach (and UFC vet) Joe Lauzon recently received his jiu-jitsu black belt, will we see anything including the words “flying” and “submission” from Lauzon’s protégé when he fights Da-un Jung this Saturday?

“I’m not throwing no flying armbars,” laughs Rodriguez, who is then informed that such a maneuver will likely cause him to go viral.

“I know, it would be insane,” he admits. But he’s not biting. No flying subs. Not even in the gym.

“I never tried it at all,” he said. 

Last chance, Mike.

“The last thing I need is Joe being like, ‘Who told you that?’”

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Okay, fair enough. No one needs Lauzon mad at him, especially with such a big fight coming up, one that Rodriguez looks at as more of a must-win than usual.

“I still feel like it’s a do or die fight for me,” said the Contender Series graduate. “I just gotta come out and perform the best I possibly can.”

Since earning his UFC contract with a flying knee finish of Jamelle Jones in the summer of 2017, the 31-year-old has shown flashes of his potential, most notably in his second-round finish of Adam Milstead a year ago. But sandwiched around that victory was a decision loss to Devin Clark as well as a similar defeat to John Allan in July. But in a stroke of good luck for the South Easton product, that loss was overturned to a no contest when Allan tested positive for a banned substance. 

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Yet while that could have been an opportunity to chalk that loss up to playing on an uneven playing field and move on knowing he was now unbeaten in two straight UFC bouts, he knew there were things to address.

“After that fight I had things to sew up,” Rodriguez admits. “He still won. Everything he did, the technique he used, and the way I fought, he beat me. If anything, I’m kind of disappointed for him. He blew an opportunity, and it was just sad. But I have no ill will towards him or anything.”

Since those three rounds in Sacramento, Rodriguez has braved the New England fall in a quest to get better, and now he’ll take his lessons learned to South Korea.

“I don’t mind it,” he said of the nearly 7,000 mile trip. “I’m just looking at it as a good opportunity to go to Asia and do something that you love. I think it’s gonna be awesome and I’m embracing it more than anything.

“I just continue from here and continue building.”