To fight professionally often requires entering a specific headspace, and the methods different athletes use are as unique as they are. Piera Rodriguez is no exception. When it’s fight week, Rodriguez says she slowly leaves “Piera” behind, and by the time she makes the walk, “La Fiera” (which translates to: “The Beast”) is the one entering the Octagon.
“I learned to flip the switch between Piera and ‘La Fiera’ when I was very, very young because I lived in a very dangerous place,” Rodriguez told UFC.com. “I was very kind and a very good girl, but where I come from, if you don't get tough, if you don't build yourself to defend yourself from the world, people can be very mean. I created this as a protection mechanism, and that's my mean side. Nobody is going to touch me when I'm ‘La Fiera.’”
Through nine professional fights, that statement has held true for the Contender Series alumna. She is undefeated, including a steady 2-0 in the Octagon with wins over Kay Hansen and Sam Hughes.
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However, Rodriguez knows she can tap into an even “meaner” side of herself. Before earning her UFC contract, five of her seven wins came inside the distance, and she can smell her first UFC finish coming sooner than later.
“A few people have seen how mean I can be in an Octagon because I had some fights in the past that I was,” she said. “Here in the UFC, I haven't shown how much I have. I'm excited because I think in this (fight), I can be very mean.”
For her third jaunt to the Octagon, Rodriguez gets UFC veteran Gillian Robertson, who is making her divisional debut. It is her first fight at 115 pounds in nearly six years.
The redheaded Canadian amassed an 8-5 record through her first 13 fights in the promotion, including a record-setting seven finishes, but Rodriguez made no qualms about it, she is not welcoming “Savage” to the division. She hopes to send her right back out of it.
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“When they offered me this fight, it was like there cannot be two red-haired, very savage (fighters) in the same division,” Rodriguez said. “I'm going to make her want to go back to flyweight.”
Rodriguez acknowledges the general idea that this is a striker-versus-grappler matchup, but she also sees herself as a complete mixed martial artist who is ready to thwart Robertson’s grappling-heavy attack.
Piera Rodriguez | Next Level
Piera Rodriguez | Next Level
She doesn’t believe there is going to be much of a size advantage for Robertson in a lower weight class either. Rather, Rodriguez views Robertson as someone who has always been a strawweight but has competed a division heavier for one reason or another.
That said, “La Piera” is eager to take advantage of the opportunity presented. Robertson has fought and beat some of the best fighters on the roster, which gives even more weight to a potential win.
View Rodriguez's Athlete Profile | Strawweight Rankings
“She's the type of fighter that you cannot sleep on,” Rodriguez said. “I think she doesn't have a million tools, but the tools she knows, she can use them very well. I think that's why she can submit some very good fighters, and I think as long as I keep that in mind, there's no problem for me.”
In terms of how Rodriguez would like to get her hand raised, she has her eyes on ending it early on the feet.
“I think I'm a knockout artist,” she said. “I don't like decisions. I don't like (scorecards). I like to make damage with my hands, with my legs, with everything that I have. I think (a) perfect fight for me would be a knockout.”
Ultimately, “perfection” seems like a key word for her. She is an undefeated fighter who takes pride in the zero on her record, and maintaining that unblemished ledger is a big goal as she makes her way through the utterly loaded strawweight division.
Flawlessness is not a focus limited to her resume. It’s also how she hopes to perform once the door locks behind her on April 15 at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen. It is when she gets to flip the switch and when the world sees “La Piera” unleashed.
“I want to do a perfect job,” Rodriguez said. “For me, every fight is like the war of my life. I think that's why I keep the undefeated (record). I really take it seriously.”
UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen took place live from T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on April 15, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!