UFC Vegas 26 | Marina Rodriguez vs Michele Waterson | DieHardMMA Previews

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UFC Vegas 26 | Marina Rodriguez vs. Michele Waterson | DieHardMMA Previews

By: Clint MacLean (@DieHardMMAPod)

UFC Vegas 26 is headlined by a women’s fight that likely will determine the #1 contender at 115. Even though this fight will take place at 125 pounds, both of these women compete naturally at 115 and will be expected to return to their home division for their next challenge. Waterson is still aiming to become the first-ever Mom-Champ. Rodriguez is flying high after destroying the MMA darling Amanda Ribas and is looking to cement herself as the #1 contender. This fight will have high stakes and should be fun. 


The Fighters:

Marina Rodriguez (-210)

  • 34 years old

  • 13 – 1

  • 64% finish rate 

  • 6 wins by KO/TKO

  • Height: 5’6

  • Reach: 65’

Marina Rodriguez is a talent who I have had my eye on for a long time. This fiery Brazilian bomber made it to the big show a bit later in her career, but she has wasted no time letting people know how serious she is. At 115, Rodriguez has a rare power, and no opponent wants to stand on the feet with her. With only 1 professional loss Rogriguez seems to be primed for her crack at the title, and after derailing the hype of Ribas, it seems like now might be the time; she just has to get by Waterson. 


Michele Waterson (+175)

  • 35 years old

  • 18 – 8

  • 67% finish rate 

  • 9 Wins by Submission

  • Height: 5’3

  • Reach: 62’

Fan-favorite The Karate Hottie, Michelle has been fighting for a long time and is one of the pioneers of the sport. Michelle is an elite talent who is well-rounded but seems to have that gold belt JUST out of her reach. Waterson has faced the best of the best and now finds herself in a Gatekeeper role in the UFC, but still has that drive to take the belt. This is a must-win fight for Michelle Waterson as she faces a young prospect with a lot of hype behind her in a spot where she very well could be being brought in to buff up a resume and highlight reel. 


The Matchup: 

Marina Rodriguez just seems to be in a prime position to capture the #1 contender spot at 115. The UFC had a phenomenal fight fall out as the main event of UFC Vegas 26, and they called Michelle Waterson and Marina Rodriguez. Waterson is a fan favorite who has been around the scene forever, but she isn’t really a draw. You have to think that the UFC is looking to capitalize on the hype behind Rodriguez not only defeating but flatlining one of the most popular prospects in the UFC. Do we really think that the UFC is giving this opportunity to Michelle Waterson? I don’t. 

Waterson will always be a great fighter and by no means am I attempting to take away from what she has done for the sport, but she has had her opportunities in the UFC and has failed each time. This time she faces Rodriguez, who is a vicious power puncher on a short camp and up a weight class where the longer, younger fighter is going to have a significant advantage.

Marina Rodriguez has a serious issue with her takedown defense. That is the clear path to victory for Michelle Waterson, but can Waterson take Rodriguez down and do it for a full 25 minutes? With this fight being a 25-minute main event, if Waterson tries attempting to out-grapple the bigger woman at any point, she is going to be fighting for her life on the feet. I don’t know that Waterson is capable of following this game plan on a short camp for 25 minutes, and I expect Rodriguez to get up and hit her with some heavy shots and eventually the referee to save Waterson from a beating. Still, the line is a bit too wide given her weakness. The thing Waterson does have going for her is that if she can out-class Rodriguez on the floor, she could find her way to submission if Rodriguez is the one who has a damaged gas tank. For those reasons, I am expecting a finish one way or the other, and I believe the best bet on this fight is the under 4.5 rounds. 


The Pick: Under 4.5 Rounds +180

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