The unique design of Yair Rodriguez’s Mexican-themed belt has grabbed as much attention during the UFC 290 fight week as any other storyline. Turns out, that Rodriguez and Alexander Volkanovski’s predecessor is also a huge admirer of belt design.
MMA Legend Jose Aldo Jr. was recently seen admiring the interim featherweight belt, with its owner Yair Rodriguez in Las Vegas. The custom-made piece was gifted to Rodriguez by the UFC ahead of his upcoming title unification bout against reigning champion Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 290.
Aldo, who will attend the event, was taken aback by the beauty of this artwork. You can watch the video below (via @espnmma Twitter), as Yair explains to Aldo some details of the design, and they part ways after the duo pose for a picture with it.
UFC’s inaugural featherweight champion Jose Aldo is regarded by many as the 145 lbs GOAT. He has a record for most consecutive title defenses in history, with nine title defenses in WEC and UFC combined.
Aldo went through a tumultuous phase in his MMA career after losing the title. However, the Brazilian legend found his footing in the bantamweight division and retired in 2022 following a unanimous decision loss to Merab Dvalishvili. Aldo’s featherweight legacy remains untouched so far, but Alexander Volkanovski is slowly but surely making his way up.
"It doesn't have a price tag on it" - Yair Rodriguez about the UFC belt design
After the eventual decline of its Mexican-origin stars like Cain Velasquez and Anthony Pettis, the UFC has found strong representatives like flyweight champions Brandon Moreno and Alexa Grasso. Yair Rodriguez is a fresh addition to this squad, as he now stands in Volkanovski’s way of breaking Jose Aldo’s record.
As a result, Yair Rodriguez's future has huge implications for the Mexican MMA and UFC's penetration into the Mexican market. As a result, a custom-made belt holds a lot of importance. While explaining the design on the UFC 290 media day, Rodriguez explained:
"Have you guys seen the movie Coco? Basically, the movie is based on the family that made this. Of course, those are cartoon animations but it is a real family. The artists are Jacobo and Maria Angeles. They are from Oaxaca, Mexico. All you guys can see... it's not printed.
"It's hand-made... Dot by dot, line by line. It's hand-made by Oaxacan artists. If you guys get closer to it, you can see the details it has. All the colors are made naturally. There is nothing chemical on it. They mix flowers and all these natural colors. This is a unique piece. It doesn't have a price tag on it!"
While he stands out as the better fighter, Alexander Volkanovski faces a truly unique challenge in Yair Rodriguez at UFC 290. The Mexican fighter is one of the most decorated strikers in the UFC today because of his unpredictable style. The champ acknowledges this fact as he prepares to meet Yair Rodriguez on July 8th.