Yair Rodriguez left it late but scored one of the most memorable buzzer-beater knockouts in MMA history to come from behind to defeat ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung-Jung at the UFC’s 25th anniversary event in Denver, Colorado.
Rodriguez, who was set to face Russia’s Zabit Magomedsharipov earlier this year before injury denied him the opportunity, was behind on the scorecards as the main event was seconds away from its conclusion before dropping his on-rushing opponent with an opportunistic elbow strike.
The referee called the bout at 4.59 of the fifth round, making this the latest ever knockout victory in the organization’s history.
It was a stunning climax to a back-and-forth battle and a most fitting way to celebrate the UFC’s quarter century birthday.
“I know the title shot is gonna be there eventually,” Rodriguez said post-fight. “The only thing I care about is being happy every moment I have. Being able to do what I love in the biggest company in the world is something I appreciate.”
Calls for a re-booking of Rodriguez’s scuppered bout with Magomedsharipov will increase now, as it stands to reason that the winner of a clash between the featherweight’s two most creative strikers will place the winner in a strong contention for a title shot at 145lbs.
Elsewhere on the card, Mike Perry suffered a broken arm in his submission defeat to Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone in the co-main event but it was Rodriguez’s moment of brilliance as the clock ticked down which was the card’s defining moment, particularly when you consider the ‘Pantera’ took the fight on just two weeks’ notice as a late substitute for an injured Frankie Edgar.
Rodriguez, the a former winner of 'The Ultimate Fighter' improves to 11-2 while Jung's first loss since a 2013 title-shot against Jose Aldo sees him move to 14-5 overall.