By Farah Hannoun | May 1, 2020 1:30 pm

Former Contender Series prospect Daniel Rodriguez is ready to follow up on his eye-catching UFC debut.

Rodriguez (11-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) stepped in on just two weeks’ notice to take on established veteran Tim Means in February at UFC on ESPN+ 25. After dropping “The Dirty Bird” late in Round 1, Rodriguez poured on the pressure and eventually submitted Means in the second round.

That win earned Rodriguez a “Performance of the Night” bonus, and with the UFC looking to get back up and running following an enforced hiatus, he has been staying ready, waiting for the call to jump back into the cage on any of the upcoming cards.

“It was on two weeks’ notice, so we went in there knowing that the odds are not on our side, but (I) went in there and did my thing,” Rodriguez told MMA Junkie. “Since then, I’ve been getting ready and staying ready. I realized that I could get a short-notice fight at any time and I have to be one-hundred percent ready and that’s what I’ve been up to this whole time.

“Honestly I follow a lot of other fighters and I feel confident that I’d be ready to fight at any moment and I feel like I’m working a lot harder than a lot of people, unless they’re doing something that they’re not showing me. But I’m ready to go. My last fight I took on two weeks’ notice. My management and my team is telling me to start getting ready, so I’ve been in shape, I’ve been getting work. Now I just gotta start dieting, start the weight cut, and I’ll be ready for whenever.”

Rodriguez got his first taste of the UFC last July when he competed on Dana White’s Contender Series. Rodriguez went to the scorecards for the first time in his career as he picked up a unanimous decision win over Rico Farrington at the UFC Apex, but it wasn’t enough to earn him a UFC contract that night.

Undeterred, Rodriguez went back to work and stopped Quinton McCottrell to win the Smash Global welterweight title in his next outing before finally receiving his UFC call-up. Now, less than a year after his appearance on the Contender Series, Rodriguez is on the UFC roster, riding a seven-fight win streak, and has his sights set on the welterweight elite.

“Of course, I’m aiming for big names but I’m a newcomer,” he said. “I’ll fight anybody to climb up the ranks and show the world where I belong but I really don’t mind who it is. Just like when they told me about making my debut, I didn’t care who it was. I said ‘yes’ before they told me who it was. I’ll fight anybody. That’s how I been my whole life.”

With the UFC event schedule restarting on May 9, the promotion has scheduled three straight events in Jacksonville, Florida with intentions of hosting future events at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, as well as Dana White’s now-infamous “Fight Island,” which is expected to be ready by June. Rodriguez said he’d love to compete at the UFC’s mystery island venue.

“That ‘Fight Island’ sounds awesome to me, it’s like Mortal Kombat or something like that,” he said. “It reminds me of all the old Van Damme movies I grew up watching, so I think that would be an amazing experience. I would love to do that (and) experience something like that, but really I’ll fight anywhere. But if I had a place to choose, it’d definitely be ‘Fight Island.\'”

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