Tag Archives: UFC Vegas 39

UFC Vegas 39 Fallout: Marina Rodriguez striking clinic makes her a contender

The UFC Vegas 39 main event didn’t quite go the way many expected as Marina Rodriguez survived a grappling onslaught from Mackenzie Dern to earn a brilliant decision win after a striking clinic.

The two Brazilian’s met in the strawweight division ranked as the number four and number six respectively, with a win for either woman opening up title contention in the near future.

Dern, who was on a five-fight win streak going into the bout, was the pre-fight favourite with the bookies and after an even first round she seemed to get the fight in the perfect place early in the second.



Dern got a takedown and immediately worked for a submission to end the bout early, with the fight finally where she wanted it to take place.

Rodriguez seemed to attempt a d’arce choke from the bottom in her defence and while Dern took a 10-8 round in many people’s eyes, Rodriguez survived the onslaught. That was the turning point in the fight.

Barring the final 30 seconds in the fourth round where Dern was once again able to get the fight to the ground, Rodriguez dominated on the feet.

She used her sharp jab, piercing right straight and an oblique kick to perfection as she pieced up Dern on the feet for the vast majority of the fight.

Marina Rodriguez of Brazil celebrates her victory over Mackenzie Dern in their women's strawweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX...

It was a rare occasion that the pure striker came out on top over the pure grappler in a mixed martial arts bout and showed that Rodriguez is a true contender in the weight class, proving she can go toe to toe with the best around and keep the fight in her world.

While Dern must go back to earning herself title contention, Rodriguez now looks ahead to a potential title eliminator bout.

Rose Namajunas and Weili Zhang will meet in the co-main event at UFC 268 next month with the 115lbs strawweight title on the line. The winner of that is likely to face Carla Esparza, who is on a five-fight win streak herself.

The UFC could potentially pair Rodriguez with Esparza in a rematch, with Rodriguez’s only professional defeat coming in a split decision loss to the former champion.

Marina Rodriguez of Brazil poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 09, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

If not, it could lead to a blockbuster match-up between Rodriguez and Jedrzejczyk who hasn’t fought since her stunning defeat to Zhang back in March 2020.

A striker’s paradise, the winner of that could then potentially claim a title shot too but it would also keep the top of the division moving in one of the most stacked weight classes on the roster.

With the likes of Yan Xiaonan also in the mix at the top end that’s important too, but Rodriguez is now in the drivers seat and has proven she is a legitimate threat to anyone in the division.

UFC Vegas 39: Dern vs Rodriguez – Main card predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a strawweight main event that could decide the next title contender for the division.

Mackenzie Dern looks to continue her win streak when she goes up against Marina Rodriguez in the main event, with both women aware that a win could pit them against the winner of Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang 2 at UFC 268 next month.

Elsewhere on the card is a fun welterweight clash between Randy Brown and Jared Gooden, while there is also an exciting flyweight fight between Tim Elliott and Matheus Nicolau as well as the return of heavyweight Alexandr Romanov.

Last week at UFC Vegas 38, we went 7/11 on picks with just one perfect pick to move us up to 428/670 (63.88%) with 184 perfect picks (42.99%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this ten-fight card and after starting with the prelims picks, we move on to the main card picks now.


Phil Hawes (11-2) vs Deron Winn (7-2) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A very fun middleweight fight opens up the main card in the middleweight division. Hawes is on a seven-fight win streak, beating Kyle Daukaus last time out at UFC Vegas 26 via decision while Winn is coming off the back of a win over Antonio Arroyo at UFC Vegas 17 following back-to-back losses.

Hawes is a power puncher with legitimate one-punch KO power, while Winn is a wrestler before everything with some okay boxing too. Winn is only 5ft 6′ so he tends to struggle when it comes to engaging in his strengths, and with Hawes having such a big advantage in the striking and the range this is a weird match-up.

Most likely, Hawes keeps his distance and just picks Winn apart from range before landing one of his really big punches and securing a stoppage win.
PICK – Phil Hawes via Knockout, Round 2

Sabina Mazo (9-2) vs Mariya Agapova (9-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A very fun women’s flyweight bout between two up and coming prospects in the division. Mazo lost her last fight to Alexis Davis last time out at UFC Vegas 20, while Agapova was beaten by Shana Dobson last time out at UFC Vegas 7 over a year ago.

Both of these women are excellent kickboxers who look at their best from range, but seem to struggle whenever their opponent looks to close the distance and starts grinding in style with dirty boxing and grappling. Luckily for them both, neither will do that here. Agapova has had trouble with her cardio in the past and Mazo is the bigger woman naturally, having previously fought at bantamweight.

This is a close fight but I think Mazo’s size, reach and cardio will edge her over the line to earn a decision win.
PICK – Sabina Mazo via Decision

Tim Elliott (18-11-1) vs Matheus Nicolau (16-3-1) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

My pick for the fight of the night in the flyweight division next. Elliott has won each of his last two, with decisions over Ryan Benoit and most recently Jordan Espinosa at UFC 259. Nicolau won his second UFC debut against former RIZIN champion Manel Kape in a controversial split-decision at UFC Vegas 21.

Elliott is a great wrestler who gets his takedowns using his cardio as a weapon and making every fight a straight up war. Nicolau on the other hand is a power puncher with some decent wrestling defence too and some good kicks in his arsenal. Elliott is a veteran who has never even been dropped in the UFC but it’s his relentless pace that often breaks opponents.

Nicolau’s best chance of a win is a big knockout and with Elliott’s durability it seems unlikely. Elliott will keep the pace high, perform his wrestling duties well and be able to just overwhelm Nicolau for a decision win.
PICK – Tim Elliott via Decision

Randy Brown (13-4) vs Jared Gooden (18-6) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A banger at welterweight in the co-main event between ‘Rudeboy’ and ‘Nite Train’. Brown bounced back from defeat against Vicente Luque with a one-arm rear-naked choke win over ‘Cowboy’ Alex Oliveira last time out at UFC 261, while Gooden starched Niklas Stolze last time out at UFC Vegas 33 to bounce back from two consecutive losses.

Brown is a great striker with terrific length and some very good submission skills, with his 11 stoppage wins split 6-5 in KO’s and taps. Gooden on the other hand is an explosive puncher with some good wrestling skills, but it’s still hard to know where he stands at the UFC level. He got dominated in his first two fights, but then earned a win with a flash knockout early so it’s hard to see if he made many improvements.

That said, he has the power advantage in this fight if he and Brown were to go strike for strike. I don’t think Brown will do that though and he’ll look to mix in his grappling and use his length well to earn himself a close decision win.
PICK – Randy Brown via Decision

Mackenzie Dern (11-1) vs Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

The main event is a super fun strawweight battle between grappler and striker as they look to make themselves title contenders with a win. Dern has won each of her last four, with three by submission including her most recent against Nina Nunes at UFC Vegas 23, while Rodriguez made it two in a row with wins over Amanda Ribas at UFC 257 and Michelle Waterson at UFC Vegas 26.

Dern is one of the best jiu-jitsu practitioners on the roster, with seven submission wins in her career but she has shown a marked improvement in her striking in recent fights too. Rodriguez on the other hand is a boxer first with some decent kicking too, with six knockout wins in her career. It’s a classic striker vs grappler bout and my mind tends to almost always go with the grappler, because they can dictate where the fight goes.

Rodriguez will look to keep the distance and use her slight reach advantage to land strikes, but Dern will be aggressive and likely pull guard because her takedowns are pretty rubbish. If she does, she’ll lock up a submission in no time but if Rodriguez keeps it standing she’ll win easily. That said, I don’t see Rodriguez keeping it standing for five rounds, so I’m backing Dern to earn yet another submission win.
PICK – Mackenzie Dern via Submission, Round 2

UFC Vegas 39: Dern vs Rodriguez – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns to the Apex once again this weekend for a strawweight main event that could decide the next title contender for the division.

Mackenzie Dern looks to continue her win streak when she goes up against Marina Rodriguez in the main event, with both women aware that a win could pit them against the winner of Rose Namajunas vs Weili Zhang 2 at UFC 268 next month.

Elsewhere on the card is a fun welterweight clash between Randy Brown and Jared Gooden, while there is also an exciting flyweight fight between Tim Elliott and Matheus Nicolau as well as the return of heavyweight Alexandr Romanov.

Last week at UFC Vegas 38, we went 7/11 on picks with just one perfect pick to move us up to 428/670 (63.88%) with 184 perfect picks (42.99%).

We’ll look to improve on that here on this ten-fight card, starting with the prelims.


Steve Garcia (11-4) vs Charlie Ontiveros (11-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

An interesting fight to start off the card as two fighters who lost their UFC debuts clash here. Garcia made his UFC debut in February 2020 against Luis Pena, while Ontiveros is a previous welterweight who made his debut at middleweight and got slammed to defeat by Kevin Holland last year at UFC Vegas 12.

Garcia is a natural featherweight who has decided to stick around at lightweight for now, with good striking volume and decent power. Ontiveros is another with great strength in the striking department. Both have been absolutely battered on the ground in the past and that means this should be a fun, stand-up affair.

With that said though, it’s unlikely to last very long. Between them they have had 33 professional fights and only one of them has taken place at lightweight before but further to that, Ontiveros has been KO’d SEVEN times in his career. This doesn’t stand to go better for him, with Garcia powerful enough to fold him early.
PICK – Steve Garcia via Knockout, Round 1

Lupita Godinez (5-1) vs Silvana Gomez Juarez (10-2) – (Strawweight/115lbs)

A short-notice strawweight bout here as ‘Loopy’ takes on debutant Silvana Gomez Juarez. Godinez suffered a split-decision loss on her debut to Jessica Penne back in April, while Juarez is on a three-fight win streak as she makes her UFC debut.

Godinez is a striker first with some decent grappling in her back pocket too, but lots of volume and a great gas tank. Juarez is a brilliant striker on the other hand, with a brilliant boxing stance and even a 4-0 professional boxing record. She is a cardio machine with good power and great cardio too, even though she is 37.

Juarez has the edge on the feet and Godinez really needs to make this an ugly fight to get the win. Short-notice helps her, but Juarez was due to fight next week anyway on the Contender Series so it’s not a massive factor. However the grappling is a big factor for Godinez and I think she’ll be able to control from the top to grind out a decision.
PICK – Lupita Godinez via Decision

Charles Rosa (14-5) vs Damon Jackson (18-4-1) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A very interesting grapple-heavy bout in the featherweight division up next. Rosa has alternated wins and losses ever since joining the UFC in 2014, beating Justin Jaynes most recently at UFC Vegas 30. Jackson is 1-1 in the UFC, beating Mirsad Bektic at UFC Vegas 11 before defeat last time out against Ilia Topuria at UFC Vegas 16.

Rosa is a solid submission artist with eight tap-out wins in his career but some really poor takedown defence. Jackson is also a brilliant grappler and one of the premiere back-takers in the UFC, with 14 submission wins in his career. His top control game is really, really good and if Rosa leaves any limbs dangling then Jackson will take them.

Jackson has been KO’d three times in his career and Rosa is a decent enough striker to land some clean shots and hurt him, but overall the defensive takedown struggles of Rosa lead me to believe that Jackson will be able to get on top and control for a win.
PICK – Damon Jackson via Decision

Alexandr Romanov (14-0) vs Jared Vanderaa (12-5) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight banger coming up as the undefeated Romanov returns to the cage to take on Vanderaa. Romanov has run through opponents in the UFC until he came up against Juan Espino, with the fight ending in a technical decision after a low blow saw the fight ended early. Vanderaa got a win the last time out when he beat Justin Tafa back in May, taking his UFC record to 1-1.

Romanov is an absolute monster with the wrestling, who just charges forward with a takedown and dominates on the ground with pure aggression. Vanderaa is a fighter with decent striking and some good cardio, but considering he’s a heavyweight he doesn’t have the most power in the world. He is the cleaner and more technical fighter in this bout, but Vanderaa likes to clinch up and get inside on his opponent which plays into the strengths of Romanov.

Unfortunately for Vanderaa, that is just not ideal. Romanov will find a way to get the fight down to the ground early and do plenty of damage with strikes and submission attempts, before probably getting a finish.
PICK – Alexandr Romanov via Submission, Round 1

Chris Gutierrez (16-3-2) vs Felipe Colares (10-2) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)

Banger in the bantamweight division steps into the place of the featured prelim bout in this one. Gutierrez is unbeaten in his last five with four wins and a draw, beating Andre Ewell at UFC 258 most recently, while Colares has alternated wins and losses in his last four with a win over Luke Sanders at UFC Vegas 25 last time out.

Gutierrez is a decent wrestler who is one of the best leg kickers in the entire company, with a large percentage of his strikes in all his fights being leg kicks. Colares on the other hand is a solid striker with some decent jiu-jitsu, but his takedown defence is lacking and often his weakness. Gutierrez is often someone who works at quite a slow pace, which could work against him in this one because Colares is quick and super durable.

That said though, Gutierrez has the advantage in the wrestling and has the advantage in the striking which means Colares will need to catch a kick to get him down. That’s unlikely and I think Gutierrez will be able to piece him up from range and do lots of damage with the leg kicks for a decision win.
PICK – Chris Gutierrez via Decision

Why Mackenzie Dern can finally break into title contention

It’s not often that you get two contenders in the upper end of the UFC rankings fighting and there’s zero talk around a title shot for their fight.

That seems to be the case currently with the UFC Vegas 39 main event, as Mackenzie Dern looks to make it five wins in a row in the women’s strawweight division when she takes on Marina Rodriguez who has won her last two.

Both women are currently ranked at number four and six respectively at 115lbs, with a title fight scheduled for next month and two inactive fighters ahead of them. A win for either really gives them a chance to stake a claim for a title fight.

As they meet in their contender fight, the landscape of the division is currently uncertain.

Rose Namajunas makes her first title defence since winning the belt from Weili Zhang at UFC 261, when she takes on the Chinese fighter in an immediate rematch at UFC 268 in November.

Number two ranked Joanna Jedrzejczyk hasn’t fought since her defeat to Zhang back at UFC 248 in March 2020 in arguably the greatest women’s mixed martial arts fight of all-time. That was however her fourth defeat in six fights, with all four coming in title fights.

It begs the question of whether she can compete at the very highest level anymore, considering she dominated the strawweight division for years before defeat to Namajunas. With no fight close to being scheduled at the time of writing and the Pole stating she’s only interested in title fights at this time, it’s probably fair to discount her from the race.

Below her is Carla Esparza, who has won five in a row and most recently earned a knockout win over Xiaonan Yan at UFC Vegas 27. She’s got the biggest claim to a title shot next, but her star power is lacking and after three of those five wins came via decisions that weren’t unanimous there is a case to make her earn the shot once more against a top five opponent.

That opens the door for Dern or Rodriguez to claim a spot against the winner of Namajunas and Zhang at some point in early 2022.

The winner will have beaten someone currently in contention, unlike the two ranked fighters above them currently, and would provide very different match ups for whoever the champion is compared to what they have fought previously in their UFC careers.

A first main event slot for Dern means she has the opportunity to make a statement of intent and show the world that she really is ready to challenge for the throne. She just has to win first.