Only one of the UFC’s two best strawweight prospects will get a title shot after they meet on Saturday in Las Vegas. Mackenzie Dern takes on Marina Rodriguez in a top-heavy card designed to give them the main focus.
Dern (11-1-0) enters the fight as the sportsbook’s favorite, though the UFC betting lines have looked like a heartbeat with recent action going on both sides. Both of these women have paths to victory and the total also indicates we won’t have to wait too long to see this fight finished.
So which of the two soon-to-be championship fighters will emerge here?
- Date: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET
- Venue: UFC Apex, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Watch on: ESPN+
Mackenzie Dern vs Marina Rodriguez
Weight Class: Strawweight (115)
Rounds: Five (Main Event)
Moneyline: Marina Rodriguez +140, Mackenzie Dern -170
Totals: Over 2½ (Evo), Under 2½ (-130)
The two hottest prospects in women’s 115 square off here and it’s sad that we have to see someone lose. But that also means one of these women realizes their championship potential. As far as the fight’s style goes, this is a striker (Rodriguez) versus grappler (Dern).
Rodriguez (14-1-2) is getting plenty of love from folks betting online and she has already cashed in her last two fights as an underdog.
Rodriguez Still Has Questions to Answer
Marina Rodriguez could be the next UFC women’s strawweight champion. She hits hard and is one of the best strikers in the division. She’s stumbled many times but, to her credit, she has only lost one fight in the UFC: a split decision vs former champion Carla Esparza.
Despite a 4-1-2 record in the company, Rodriguez still has many wrinkles to iron out. The first would be her endurance. She went five rounds against Michelle Waterson in a short-notice flyweight fight, but against grapplers she has been susceptible to fading down the stretch.
Most concerning, though, would be her takedown defense. Rodriguez has allowed a takedown in all of the fights she did not win. In fact, she’s allowed 3.33 takedowns in these three fights. Rodriguez is young and still growing and she claims to be ready to showcase her jiu-jitsu skills. Yet going against Dern in this department is a troublesome tactic.
Dern Close to Realizing Star Power
It has been a long five years for Mackenzie Dern. But the jiu-jitsu prodigy-turned-rising MMA star is one win away from booking a title shot. As the hottest prospect in MMA since Ronda Rousey, Dern had to overcome weight-cutting issues and an upset against Amanda Ribas.
But she’s here now. The Brazilian-American is the most dangerous grappler in the division and has earned four submission wins and three performance bonuses in her UFC tenure. She’s developing her striking and while still unpolished in this area, she is powerful and durable enough to keep more competent strikers honest.
Dern will still need to get the fight to the ground if she wants to maximize her chances of winning. If she submits Rodriguez, there will be no disputes that she is next in line for a title shot. She is this close to becoming the UFC’s next superstar.
Dern vs Rodriguez: Who Wins?
This is a “dog or pass” situation with the smart money mostly on Rodriguez. The Brazilian is the better striker and will light Dern up if she keeps the fight standing. She may not even need the extra rounds to dispose of Dern.
However, Dern is highly durable and has never been finished in her pro MMA career. Rodriguez hits hard so she may eventually be able to get Dern out of there. Or Dern could submit Rodriguez if she catches her on a grappling mistake early. It’s still the best UFC bet to take the over here given the toughness of both women.