UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez vs Waterson Analysis
This weekend the UFC have clutched up with a nice little fight night after multiple big names got pulled from the card.
Fans on Twitter and Reddit have been ragging on this card due to the new main event and undercard, but we got a sneaky good card on our hands that I'm very excited about. I'm here to break it all down, tell you what not to miss, and some other fights to keep your eye on!
The Main Event
Originally supposed to be a very hyped 135lb fight between Cory Sandhagen and former bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw, but TJ was forced off the card due to a cut above his eye getting infected. So, two ladies in the top 10 of the strawweight division are stepping up on a little under 10 days’ notice. Rising contender #6 Marina Rodriguez is taking on division veteran #9 Michelle Waterson and It'll be at 125lbs due to being so short notice. Fans have been very vocal on social media feeling this isn't main event worthy, but I think they're being too harsh because we have a very interesting stylistic match-up. Fans also have the memory of a goldfish because Michelle coming off a fantastic main event with Angela Hill who’s also fighting on this card Saturday. The strawweight division has been heating up the past few weeks so a hyped prospect taking on an elite measuring stick of the division put together last minute? I’ll gladly take it.
Coming into the fight game in 2007, Michelle is a true veteran of women's MMA fight between three weight classes across 105lbs, 115lbs, and 125lbs. Michelle started the base of her skills in karate but over the years has put together a very complete skill set training with some of the best at JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Michelle has a great kicking game that shows a lot of traditional karate techniques like sidekicks, roundhouse kicks, and ax kicks. Her grappling is very underrated though, she has very solid wrestling and jujitsu which has been able to help her eek out of some of these close competitive fights she's had in the UFC. Holding a record of 6-4 in the promotion but it's much better than it looks. Fighting the elite of the division like champions Rose Namajunas, Joanna Jedrzejcyzk, and Carla Esparza. She has some very solid wins over Jessica Penne, Paige VanZandt, Cortney Casey, Felice Herrig, former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and coming off her 5-round battle with Angela Hill. A short notice win against the #6 contender would do wonders for her stock and would probably earn her a top 5 opponent to make progress on a title run.
Not as experienced as Michelle, starting her MMA career in 2015 but Marina has been running through her opponents to get to the UFC. She was a lifelong athlete in many sports but then found Muay Thai and took off running. Marina is very fun to watch, really puts that Muay Thai background to work. She does some of her best work in the Thai clinch when she gets both hands behind the neck and lights her opponents up with brutal knees and elbows. Mean leg kicks and has made improvements with her boxing. Add of these skills to tall and long frame for the division which gives a lot of the ladies she faces problems. Holding a UFC record of 3-1-2, Marina took everyone's attention with a dominant first-round TKO on the contender series to earn her UFC contract. She made her debut against tough journey women Randa Markos which was a tough fight that resulted in a draw. She picked up momentum earning decision wins over veterans Jessica Aguilar and Tecia Torres. She went on to have some more razor-close rights with a draw against Cynthia Cavillo and a tough split decision loss to Carla Esparza. She then faced one of the most hyped prospects in the division Amanda Ribas where Marina picked up a brutal KO and showed grit after getting out grappled the first round, cashing in as the underdog at +270. Marina has had some tough fights in the UFC, but the experience is growing on her, and has started to get her feet under her to start making a run.
Variables of the fight
I think this is a much closer fight than the oddsmakers are giving credit. I think Michelle's grappling and 5 round experience is the biggest factor of the fight. Marina's draws and loss in the UFC were due to her struggling in the wrestling department against Esparza and Cavillo. It's also a question of how Marina looks in the 4th of 5th rounds. This will be Michelle’s third 5 round fight, so she’ll have a better understanding of the pace. That being said this has the potential to be a showcase for Marina. I'd imagine she has been studying Michelle's fights with Joanna and Angela where Michelle struggled a bit with the pressure and kickboxing of both of those ladies which Marina's style has similarities to. Marina riding the confidence of the Ribas KO could play big into this fight where she survives the grappling exchanges and makes Michelle pay for it on the feet and Thai clinch.
Originally supposed to be Diego Sanchez against Donald Cerrone, but after a dramatic week of events for Diego, he was released from the UFC due to fear of medical issues and drama from his coaches. Alex Morono is stepping up on short notice taking on Cowboy Cerrone. Morono being in the UFC since 2016 holding a record of 7-5 in the promotion, he's a scrappy striker who tends to brawl with his opponents if they let him. What is there left to say about Cowboy Cerrone? An absolute legend in the UFC, fighting the toughest opponents anytime anywhere across the two toughest divisions in lightweight and welterweight. Listen to the records Donald’s set in the company, most finishes with 16, most wins with 23, and second most fights with 36. 51 fights and never been in a boring one. Donald is older now and on losing skid so there are some questions. Beautiful kickboxing, head, body, and leg kicks. Stabbing knees to the body. One of the most underrated submission games. Some of the most creative combos in the UFC. When Donald is having fun and respectful with his opponent’s prefight, he does his best work. Glove touching, friendly face-offs, when there’s no pressure on him he flows in the cage. He struggles when there's animosity and trash talk, and on top of that, he's a bit of a slow starter in the first round. Alex must capitalize on this and not respect this legendary fight and start as fast, the longer this fight goes the looser Donald gets and the last thing you want is Donald getting creative and calm as the fight goes on. This will be fun to see play out regardless!
Can’t miss fights
The fight I'm most excited about on the card is a lightweight fight between Carlos Diego Ferreira and Gregor Gillespie. Ferreira coming off one of the best fights of the year so far in a close split decision to Beniel Dariush. A BJJ world champion who's rounded his game into an aggressive pressure striker with fantastic cardio and just a gamer overall. Gregor has some of the best wrestling in the stacked lightweight division. Looking to bounce back from the Kevin Lee loss in 2019 and his last-minute cancelation against Brad Riddell 5 weeks ago. These guys are two dark horses of 155lbs with a grappler vs grappler matchup, that would fun to watch how they compete on the ground or could just play out in a wild striking match.
Geoff Neal versus Neil Magny is one the best fights on the card. Rising contender against a welterweight veteran. Geoff one of the toughest prospects at 170lbs right now. A precision power puncher with great takedown defense coming off an absolute war with top 2 contender Stephen Thompson. Looking to dust himself off and make a title run. Neil Magny is no pushover, one of the toughest veterans in the division, facing many champions and rising prospects. Neil is a long and lengthy endurance fighter with a great jab and grappling. Just an overall intelligent fighter who’s a great litmus test for Geoff to see where his ceiling is.
We got two top 15 strawweight ladies going at it to break into the top 10. Angela Hill taking Amanda Ribas. Like the Neal vs Magny fight, this is a rising contender taking a proven veteran. Angela Hill who's brought her striking to a new level and adding an overall meanness to her game after a domination of Ashley Yoder. Ribas looking to bounce back after her first loss to main event fighter Marina Rodriguez but before that was on a tear with an armbar submission over Paige VanZandt and a grappling clinic of current #5 contender and female BJJ legend Mackenzie Dern. A great striker vs grapple matchup to see who’s going to impose the skillset on.
Fights to keep your eye on
They're a few other fights that caught my eye that has some potential. A middleweight fight between two prospects Phil Hawes and Kyle Daukaus that has somebody getting finishes written all over it. Heavyweight veteran Ben Rothwell taking on former PFL champion Philipe Lins that could be a backyard slugfest. A featherweight fight between Ultimate Fighter season 27 winner Mike Trizano and Slovakian knock-out artist Ludovit Klein in a very competitive fight.
This is a rewarding card for the hard cores, and I have to get this information out to the people.
Enjoy the fights this weekend! Stay tuned for Keith's betting guide to see who he picks in these fights!