MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 39, a five-round women’s strawweight bout between Mackenzie Dern and Marina Rodriguez. The event takes place on Saturday, October 9 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mackenzie Dern (-170)
Dern (11-1) is the No. 4 ranked women’s strawweight in the UFC. The 28-year-old American is 6-1 overall in the UFC and she is riding a four-fight win streak at the moment, with three of those wins coming by way of submission. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Dern does her best work when she’s on the mat. When she gets into her world, she can submit anybody in the world in this weight class. As for her striking skills, Dern is working hard on her hands and we have seen improvements in her recent fights, though of course, she wants to get her opponents down to the mat. Dern is a solid fighter at 115lbs already and she has the potential to be even better if she lives up to her potential.
Marina Rodriguez (+150)
Rodriguez (14-1-2) is the No. 6 ranked women’s strawweight in the UFC. The 34-year-old Brazilian is 4-1-2 overall in the UFC and she is coming off of back-to-back wins over Amanda Ribas and Michelle Waterson in her last two fights. A striking-based fighter, Rodriguez throws a ton of volume on the feet with her hands and her feet, and she also has power. The biggest weakness for Rodriguez is her takedown defense. However, she has been hard at work at shoring up that aspect of her game. Against Dern, Rodriguez is going to have to have her TDD on point if she wants to win.
Fight Breakdown: This should be an excellent matchup between two of the best women’s strawweights in the UFC, and the winner should be no more than one win away from the title shot. At a basic level, this is a striker vs. grappler matchup, with Rodriguez as the striker and Dern as the grappler. As such, it stands to reason that whoever is able to get the fight to their world will win it. Dern is an amazing submission grappler, but I look at her 10% takedown accuracy and I don’t see a great wrestler. With just 62% TDD, Rodriguez doesn’t have great defensive wrestling by any means, but I still think she can show improvements in that aspect of her game and keep this fight upright. If Dern can get this fight to the ground, she can win by submission, but I think Rodriguez is going to prove hard to get down. As well, Rodriguez has never been submitted before, so I think it’s going to be hard to force the tap. If the fight stays standing, I see a big edge for Rodriguez in terms of hand speed, power, and output on the feet. I also like the fact that we have seen Rodriguez go five rounds before and not slow down. Overall, I’ll go with the cleaner striker and side with Rodriguez here.
Prediction: Marina Rodriguez